Sleepily Every After: Can a Snoring Problem Break Up My Marriage?
Fatigue and lack of sleep are some of the contributing causes of the Chernobyl disaster. They are some of the primary stressors in the Three Mile Island accident, the Exxon Valdez spill and the end of the Challenger.
Up to 90 million Americans have a snoring problem. While their level of rest is affected by snoring, what about their partners, family members, and neighbors? Snoring can reach decibel levels in excess of 110 dB, or about the same as a low-flying jet.
If you are considering smothering your partner, divorce or other extreme measures due to snoring, this article is for you.
Read on to learn more.
What Causes Snoring?
There is no one cause of snoring. It may not be a comfort to know that your partner is probably not intentionally snoring AT you. Snoring prevention begins with eliminating some of the more common causes.
The annoying sound happens when air passes your tongue, soft palate, and airway, as you inhale and exhale. As you sleep, the muscles of the soft tissues relax and narrow the air passages. The tissue vibrates as air passes through.
The more constricted your airway gets, the more forceful the air pressure becomes. This increases the tissue vibrations and makes the sounds louder. If your soft tissues are loose enough, they can fall and restrict breathing.
Bad anatomy is often the cause of snoring. The shape and elasticity of the mouth, throat, and sinuses are factors. Your weight, allergies, illness or alcohol consumption can also make a difference.
Is the Snoring Problem Due to Bad Anatomy?
The following anatomical conditions affect snoring decibel levels:
A low-hanging, thick soft palate or elongated uvula narrows your airway. Overweight people may find extra tissue at the back of the throat, much like a double chin or jowls.
Chronic congestion or a deviated septum can also contribute to snoring. Back sleepers are particularly susceptible to snoring. The effect of gravity on the soft tissues pulls the airway closed.
Although it isn’t anatomy, poor sleeping habits, sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption or some drugs will relax the throat muscles and cause airway collapse.
“My Snoring Isn’t Bad, Why Is My Partner So Angry?”
Nearly a quarter of all married couples sleep separately. That’s right, nearly 25% of the married couples participating in the Sleep Foundation’s research survey found themselves in separate beds. Unless you live in a 1950’s era sitcom, this is not ideal.
Many snorers don’t recognize the rage they inspire. Often, there is nothing the affected partner can do. They can try to wake the snorer, pinch their nostrils shut, or try to roll them over.
Most of the time, the only thing that works is to isolate the snorer. One person must leave the room. Eventually, the lack of intimacy and resentment will kill a marriage.
Separate Rooms Are Not the Answer
Couples find emotional intimacy and comfort in sharing a bed. Sleeping apart due to a deafening roar coming from one partner can weaken a relationship. A personal decision like sleeping in separate beds or rooms may work well for some people and poorly for others.
Frustration, resentment, and tiredness take a toll on the most forbearing partner. Snoring harms both the person snoring and the one forced into disturbed sleep night after night.
How Snoring Harms the Snorer
Snoring is known as a symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing several times a night. This repeated lack of oxygen makes people wake up still feeling tired. The snorer may sleep a full night, but may still be unrefreshed and fatigued.
During the day, the snorer feels fatigued, has little concentration or nods off. Long-term effects on health include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Stress-related illness
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes
Lack of sleep has its own consequences for the person listening to the snorer.
Fatigue in Partners of Snorers
Lack of recuperative sleep impairs a person’s memory, learning, reasoning, and mathematical processes. Going on day after day, it impairs motor skills. It can include morning headaches, irritability, daytime sleepiness, and depression.
It can trigger addictive behavior. Quite literally, a partner’s snoring can drive a person to drink! Simply to get away from the side effects of lack of sleep, couples find themselves choosing to live and sleep separately.
Finding a Solution
The first step is to determine why the person is snoring. The first step is usually a doctor’s consultation to determine if it is simply snoring or more seriously, sleep apnea. The doctor may order some tests.
An overnight evaluation that involves the monitoring of breathing and other body functions during sleep is expected. It can sometimes be done at home or in a sleep center.
Home Sleep Tests
A doctor might provide portable equipment and simplified tests for use at home to diagnose sleep apnea. The equipment measures the heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, airflow and breathing patterns. It saves the information for transmission back to the doctor.
Sleep Center Nocturnal Polysomnography
This test is performed in a sleep study center. more sophisticated equipment is hooked up to heart, lung and brain activity. It records breathing patterns, movement of the limbs, and blood oxygen levels during sleep.
Abnormal test results may need further study or the doctor can suggest therapy to alleviate symptoms. A sleep mask to provide positive air pressure to hold air passages open during sleep is a common answer.
If the doctor suspects obstructive sleep apnea, a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist is in order. Other consultations by cardiologists and neurologists might also be needed.
Surgical Remedies for Snoring Problems and Sleep Apnea
There are many suggested ways to reduce the impact of snoring. For people with excess tissue at the back of the throat or nose malformations, there are surgical interventions. Surgical intervention to fix a deviated septum, for example, can quiet nighttime sleep.
Other interventions include palatal implants to stiffen the soft palate so it doesn’t collapse. Several braided strands of polyester are injected into the soft palate to add structure. There are also laser or low-frequency radio wave tissue removals to tighten or remove excess tissue.
Tonsil and adenoid removal is a general recommendation if the tissues fall and block breathing. An ear, nose, and throat specialist can help identify any airway obstructions.
Surgical treatments are recommended when other measures are inadequate. For example, a large weight loss is often enough to limit snoring. However, excess skin on the face and nose may remain and need surgical removal.
Less Invasive Snoring Measures
An oral appliance is a special dental mouthpiece custom-fitted to your mouth. Its purpose is to hold the jaw in place. The device also holds soft tissues open to make it easier to breathe.
Some snorers have difficulty keeping their mouth shut while sleeping. A device like a sling to keep the jaw in place is helpful. There are several comfortable models.
A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device is a commonly prescribed machine. A doctor can order a pressurized air mask to fit over the nose and mouth during sleep. The air pressure helps to hold the airways open.
This treatment is recommended for obstructive sleep apnea. Some snorers have trouble adapting to mask use. Some non-snoring partners also complain about the sound of the machine running.
Common Sense Advice
To reduce the excess tissue at the back of the throat, the snorer should lose weight if overweight. Men and women with excess body weight tend to have more tissue in the palate and back of the throat.
There are exercises to repeat daily to strengthen and tone throat muscles. Regular cardio exercise to build lung capacity is also a good idea.
Relaxed tissues during sleep cause snoring, so eliminate alcohol or sedatives to discourage overly lax palates and other soft tissues. Too-deep sleep can result in snoring.
Eliminate smoking or vaping too. Nicotine and other irritants can inflame tissues, thus restricting airways. Smoking tends to dry oral and nasal tissues, leading to mucus buildup and narrowed airways.
Snoring Problems: Remedies to Try Now So You Both Can Sleep
Over-the-counter nasal strips work to increase the space in the nasal passage. They are placed on the nose bridge to gently lift the skin to make breathing easier. This can reduce snoring.
A nasal dilator is applied across the nostrils on top of the nose for the same effect. There are also dilators that fit inside the nostrils and hold the nasal passage open wide to decrease air resistance.
If allergies are at fault, try a nasal decongestant and an antihistamine before bedtime. Talk to a doctor before using either medication more than occasionally. Even though the medications are available over-the-counter, they can have serious side effects or interactions with other treatments.
Deep clean your sleeping area to remove dirt, dust, and allergens from the area. These irritants can increase snoring. Don’t allow pets on the bed, if possible. Pet dander is a very common allergen and even a small amount can inflame the nasal passages.
Recommendations to Try at Home
There are literally hundreds of gadgets, medications, and practices to reduce or eliminate snoring. Depending on the underlying problem, one of them might be the best fit for a situation.
Practice Good Sleeping Habits
To keep couples together and minimize snoring, avoid excess fatigue. Schedule at least eight hours of sleep nightly and practice good sleep hygiene. Some snorers are simply sleep-deprived and sleep too deeply to avoid snoring.
Sleep is also good for partners, too. They key is to maximize recuperative rest.
Encourage Side Sleeping
Avoid sleeping on the back. Back sleepers tend to allow the jaw to fall open and the tongue to relax. This causes snoring.
Home remedies such as pillow props or a tennis ball sewed into the back if pajamas work to encourage other sleeping positions. Side sleeping may be all that is needed to allow free airflow.
Elevate the Head
Raise the top part of the bed by four to six inches to reduce your snoring. Lifting the head helps keep the airways open. Try a foam wedge, pillows or raising the mattress.
There are adjustable beds, mattresses, and pillows on the market today. Some devices even connect to a tablet or phone for “smart” technology that recognizes snoring. The devices automatically raise the bed when snoring is detected.
Just Add Water
Adjust the humidity in the sleeping area to reduce dry tissues. Encourage the snorer to keep hydrated too. Thick, ropy saliva and mucus buildup can block already narrowed nasal passages.
This can cause snoring, coughing and other nighttime disturbances to sleep.
The snoring problem is recognized in several different types of folk medicine. Take these types of remedies with skepticism. A cup of peppermint tea before bed is supposed to help.
Taking fenugreek or breathing eucalyptus oil in steam are other recommendations. For a truly awful “cure” chew a tablespoon of raw onion before bed. Some people prefer the help of a naturopath or chiropractor.
Don’t Sacrifice a Relationship Because of a Snoring Problem
Fatigue and sleep-deprivation can affect emotional well-being for both the snorer and their partner. If snoring is causing marital problems, separate rooms for rest may cause more trouble. Instead, look at solving the snoring problem.
Understand that snoring is a symptom of a physical condition. Consult a doctor for an in-depth health examination and sleep study. Conditions such as sleep apnea, infection or a deviated septum can cause snoring.
There are treatments for those problems and many more causes. Although some snoring cases require surgical intervention, there are also non-invasive treatments.
There are many non-surgical, in-office and at-home, minimally invasive treatments available to snorers. Want to learn more? Contact us today.
A very special thanks to Feedspot.com. They just ranked Stop Snoring Now at www.How-To-Stop-Snoring.org one of the top 15 blog sites for snoring! https://blog.feedspot.com/snoring_blogs/
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