Did you know that nearly 25 percent of couples sleep separately due to sleep issues? While snoring and its negative effects on a relationship have become a bit of a running joke, the sleep disturbance can genuinely impact marital happiness. For many couples, snoring can cause significant disagreements. For example, it can push partners away, causing friction, interrupting intimacy, and even breeding resentment.
Sleeping less can actually lead to more fighting between couples. One study from Ohio State University found that couples who sleep less than seven hours a night not only fight more, but their arguments are also more likely to become more serious. Along those lines, couples who didn’t get sufficient sleep also had higher levels of inflammation in their blood than normal, which is associated with an increased risk of diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
If you or your partner snores at night, it’s normal to feel frustrated with the situation. However, it doesn’t need to take a toll on your relationship. By teaming up to investigate the problem together, you can find a way to solve the snoring itself—all while feeling closer than ever before. Here are four tips for helping your partner address their snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) so that you can both get the excellent sleep you need.
Help Them Improve Their Sleep Position
If your partner lies on their back while they sleep, that may be a major reason why they’re snoring. Lying on your back not only makes the base of your tongue relax but also causes the soft palate to collapse to the back wall of your throat, causing the loud vibrating sound during sleep. Sleeping on your side instead could dramatically improve snoring.
However, changing your sleeping position can be challenging. If your partner struggles to continue sleeping on their side throughout the night, consider buying them a full-body pillow that supports their entire body. Don’t be afraid to get creative with solutions that might help them sleep on their side, like taping tennis balls on the back of their pajamas, giving them a knee pillow to straighten their back, or encouraging them to sleep on a narrow surface like a couch until it becomes a habit.
If snoring doesn’t improve regardless of sleep position, consider reaching out to a doctor. This could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
Look at Possible Lifestyle Changes
Making changes in your and your partner’s daily lifestyle could also help reduce snoring. For example, if your partner has recently gained weight and started snoring but didn’t snore before they gained weight, weight loss could help. This is especially true if they have gained weight around their neck, as it squeezes the throat and makes it more likely to collapse during sleep.
Additionally, avoiding alcohol and other sedatives like melatonin could prevent muscles in the back of the throat from relaxing too much and blocking the airway. While alcohol can make you sleepy, it actually worsens sleep quality, as the body spends less time in REM sleep—the most important stage of sleep for concentration and motor skills. Similarly, alcohol also causes the muscles in the nose, back of the throat, and mouth to relax, causing respiratory resistance.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Poor sleep hygiene can have a similar effect on the quality of sleep as drinking alcohol. Paying attention to your nighttime routine and how you prepare yourself for sleep could have significant benefits, not only for snoring but also for overall sleep quality. This is something that both you and your partner could benefit from.
There are a few excellent ways to improve your nighttime routine in order to get better sleep, including the following tips:
- Going to bed and waking up at a consistent time every day
- Journaling before bed to ease anxiety or stress
- Practicing meditation
- Avoiding blue light for a couple of hours before bed
- Refraining from coffee at least six hours before bedtime
- Taking a warm bath or shower
- Stretching, breathing, and relaxing
Practicing a routine every night can help signal to your body that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep. By creating a schedule for yourself, journaling, giving yourself plenty of time to wind down, and creating a ritual, you can set yourself up for deeper and better sleep.
Encourage Them to Get Screened and Treated
If you’ve gone through several significant changes with your partner and haven’t seen an improvement in snoring and overall sleep quality, it’s time to reach out to a doctor or dentist. Your partner’s snoring could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious disorder that affects millions of Americans and one billion people worldwide.
On top of impacting one’s everyday life by leading to excessive daytime sleepiness, an inability to focus, and worsened functioning, the sleep disorder is also associated with a variety of chronic health concerns, including the following:
- Heart disease
- Chronic pain
If your partner’s snoring is a sign of OSA, it is essential for them to reach out and get the treatment they need to lead happier and healthier lives. By treating the disorder, they will be able to address the root cause of their snoring rather than using a Band-Aid solution that only temporarily improves symptoms.
Snoring does not need to come between you and your partner. If you team up and work together to target the root cause of snoring, you can find a solution that works for both of you. You are in this together!