The sun has set and bedtime is approaching. It should be a time when couples come together to discuss the day’s events, to hold each other, and to gain a restful night’s sleep. However, if one partner snores, bedtime becomes a time of stress, frustration, and resentment.
The Non-Snoring Partner
For the non-snoring partner, the nightly struggle to fall asleep first and sleep through the night can be a great cause of tension. This individual may resort to earplugs, headphones with music, or even something as drastic as sleeping in the guest bedroom.
The spouse of a snorer may grow resentful of his or her partner, who appears to be sleeping peacefully all night, every night, even though that may not be the case.
Snoring is not a choice. And while that reality may be obvious to one’s conscious mind, subconsciously, a partner may begin to blame the snorer for keeping him or her awake and preventing restful moments as a couple, as well as interfering with intimacy. A non-snorer may begin to silently fester or verbally lash out at his or her partner.
People who snore may feel guilty for the trouble they feel as if they are causing in their romantic relationships. They may become apologetic and avoid sleep, which only adds to the strain of the relationship.
Snoring is a breathing-related sleep disorder that interferes with both the quality and quantity of one’s sleep. Snoring is most commonly associated with sleep apnea, which can cause numerous health issues, including, according to WebMD, the following:
- Blockage of the airway causing interruptions in breathing of more than ten seconds
- Frequent awakening, even without the snorer’s awareness
- Light sleep
- Strain on the heart, which can include high blood pressure, enlarged heart muscle, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Daytime drowsiness as a result of poor sleep
- Low oxygen levels in the bloodstream, which can cause pulmonary hypertension
- Chronic headaches
The relationship itself will suffer from the effects of snoring. Since both partners may experience a deficiency in both the amount and the quality of sleep, they each may exhibit signs of irritability as well as the following:
- Changes in judgement
- Unclear thinking abilities
- Short temper
- Increase in negative responses
- Reduction in one’s ability to empathize
- Inability to manage conflict
Psychology Today reports that a lack of sleep can “make couples feel less appreciative of each other… [with] greater feelings of selfishness.” The snoring partner may feel guilty and ashamed, even though he or she has no control over the problem, while the non-snorer may grow resentful and bitter over the lack of sleep.
What To Do
Whether you are the snorer or the partner of one, there are things to do to help mend the strain on your relationship. Try one of these helpful tips:
- Sleep on your side. Side sleeping is less likely to result in loud snoring. You may want to try placing a pillow behind you to keep you on your side. If that doesn’t work, try placing tennis balls in a tube sock and attaching it to the back of your nightshirt as a gentle reminder to sleep on your side.
- Lose weight. It has been proven that even a little extra weight can affect snoring intensity and quantity.
- Avoid alcohol. While a nightcap can relax you to help you sleep, it also relaxes the throat muscles, which can result in snoring.
- Go to your doctor. Snoring is a sign of sleep apnea. Your doctor can recommend a sleep study, which will determine if your sleep is impaired due to sleep apnea. A CPAP machine will not only help you get a restful night’s sleep, it will stop the snoring.
- Use nasal strips. This ingenious product can open your airways and stop the snoring.
Snoring does not have to be the end of your relationship. Opening up and discussing the problem is the first step towards solving – or at least understanding – the issue. Take into account each individual’s perspective and then take steps to address the snoring. Remember that snoring not only can affect the non-snoring partner’s sleep, but can also be a sign of sleep problems for the snorer.