The Damage Done: How Snoring Affects Relationships
If you find sleeping with a snoring spouse exhausting, you’re not alone. And if you’re the one doing the snoring, I’ll bet that you’re exhausted from being poked and prodded awake several times a night. Snoring affects relationships in several ways, and all of them are negative.
But what if you could both get a good night’s sleep every night? You’d wake up refreshed and rested. Your mood would be better, you’d be less irritable and have more patience. Not to mention more energy, a clearer head and increased willpower.
I’m going to show you how all of this is possible without divorce or even sleeping in separate bedrooms!
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring is a form of sleep-disordered breathing that includes obstructive sleep apnea, OSA.
Both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are caused by a blockage in the airway that disrupts breathing during the night.
Snoring occurs when the airway is partially blocked by tissues in the nose, mouth or throat. As air passes over this tissue it creates a vibration that we call snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes totally blocked and breathing stops all together. Obviously, sleep apnea is a more serious condition that snoring after all, if you stop breathing completely, there’s no guarantee that you will start again! So if you think you or your partner may have sleep apnea, you need to talk with your doctor immediately.
So, here’s the takeaway:
Both snoring and sleep apnea interrupt normal breathing. This can cause a condition called generalized hypoxia where the blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen to the organs.
Hypoxia can cause:
- Muddled thinking
- Loss of coordination
- Mood disturbances
- Organ failure
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Increased risk for heart failure
- Depression and anxiety
But that’s not all,
When the oxygen levels in the blood get too low, a part of the brain called the medulla oblongata triggers the release of stress hormones. This automatic response is designed to;
- Jolt you awake
- Increase respiration
- Increase heart rate
- Narrow arteries so more blood gets to vital organs
All of this goes on when your body should be “resting”.
Snoring and Marriage Breakdown: How Snoring Affects Relationships
There are a lot of good reasons for you or your partner to take snoring seriously. On top of that list is how much snoring negatively affects your relationship.
Increased irritability – Marriage is hard enough, but when you pile on a lack of sleep due to you or your partner’s snoring and you’ll both wake up tired and irritable. As we all know, lack of sleep can make us short tempered and unable to manage conflict well.
The little things about our partner that normally wouldn’t bother us, all of the sudden become a source of major irritation.
Additionally, snoring will inevitably affect intimacy.
How Snoring Affects Your Sex Life
Any noise or disturbance that interferes with sleep has the potential to cause anger and resentment on the part of the sufferer, and it is not difficult to postulate that years of disturbed sleep may cause resentment and anger on the part of the bed partner.
So, if you’re tired, fatigued, irritable AND resentful, how do you think it will affect your sex life?
Here’s the bottom line on how snoring affects relationships;
Just like most marital problems it starts out small. Heck, in the beginning, your partners’ snoring was easy to overlook. Maybe because you were madly in love. Maybe because it really wasn’t that bad in the beginning. But over time, things change.
What use to be a small purr has now turned into a lion’s roar. You’re waking up several times a night and waking up your partner too.
You’re both irritable, tired and short tempered. The bond you had that was once so strong is weakening.
And here comes the final straw;
Because everyone is tired, irritated and resentful. Your sex life starts to decline. Like the other issues, it will be slow at first. But before you know it, you’re living with a roommate instead of a spouse.
That’s it, what you once thought was an unbreakable bond has been broken. You start saying and hearing things like “I love him/her as a person, but I’m not in love with them”.
But it doesn’t have to be this way;
How Snoring Affects Relationships: Some Practical Tips to Saving Your Marriage
Just like with most marital problems, establishing good communication around the issue is the key to solving it. After all, you and your partner are a team. So, it’s time to address the issue and solve it as a team as well.
Advice for the snorer;
- Listen and be open to hearing your partner. Often, the snorer is the last one to know that they snore. If your partner is telling you that your snoring keeps them up at night, it does.
- Take the issue seriously. Even though you may think that the snoring is only a problem for your partner, it’s affecting your sleep cycle, health and relationship too.
- Commit to finding a solution (more on solutions later). Even if you don’t consider your snoring to be bad. Remember that you’re a team and you need to support one another.
Advice for the partner;
- Remember that snoring is a medical condition, not a personal flaw. Getting upset or angry with your partner will not help the situation and will probably make it worse.
- Be gentle with your snorer. Sometimes people are embarrassed about their snoring. Especially if they aren’t aware of it. Approach them the way you would like to be approached with a problem.
- Pick the right time. If their snoring is keeping you awake, then by all means give them a gentle nudge so you can fall asleep. But don’t wake them up to have the snoring “talk” right then. Wait until the next day when you both can discuss it calmly.
Simple and Effective Solutions to Help You Stop Snoring
As we talked about earlier, snoring is caused by excess tissue in the nose, mouth or throat that blocks the airway. And we’re going to be talking about treatments to address all of those issues.
But first, there are some very basic things you can do to reduce or eliminate snoring that are all-natural and free. So let’s discuss these first.
Non-Invasive Drug-Free Solutions to Snoring
- Quit smoking – Besides being generally bad for your health, smoking irritates the throat and nasal passages. As a response, your body sends more blood to the area causing inflammation. This inflammation will block the airways causing you to snore.
- Don’t drink alcohol before bed – The idea of a nightcap before bed to help you sleep is just a myth. Alcohol before bed will certainly make you fall asleep, but studies have shown that it interferes with REM sleep (the most important part of the sleep cycle). Alcohol also relaxes the muscles in the throat, allowing any excess tissue to fall back and block the airway.
- If you’re overweight, lose the excess pounds – You don’t have to be overweight to snore, but it is a risk factor. When we gain weight, we gain it all over our body, and that includes our nose, mouth and throat. This excess adipose tissue (fat) is what blocks the airways and causes snoring. Just a quick note here. Research is now beginning to show that sleep-disordered breathing patterns like snoring can be a major factor in weight gain. So, by treating your snoring you could actually lose weight.
- Don’t over-exercise – Bet you never expected a post about health to warn you about exercise! But the truth is, if you are constantly over-exercising you are going to bed exhausted. This means that all your muscles relax. That includes the muscles in the throat that normally would hold any excess tissue from blocking your airway. When these muscles relax, snoring begins. And when this happens, you aren’t getting the full benefits of sleep that your body needs after a workout.
For a good resource on more non-invasive drug-free solutions to snoring, click here.
Still Snoring? Let’s Pinpoint the Issue!
Okay, so you’ve cut out smoking, drinking before bed, and have even lost a few pounds. But sometimes that’s not enough and the snoring train keeps rolling down the tracks. Don’t give up! There are still a lot of options available to treat your snoring.
But first we need to identify the exact cause of your snoring. Once we have done that, we can address the solution. So, what type of snorer are you?
How Snoring Affects Relationships: Are You a Nasal Snorer?
Nasal Snoring – If you’re a nasal snorer, your partner will report the sound as a consistent fluttery, rumbling or grunting sound. It can also sound like whistling. If you notice that you have trouble breathing through your nose during the day, this can be a sign that you’re a nasal snorer.
Here’s a quick test;
Stand in front of a mirror and use a finger keep one of your nostrils shut. Continue breathing through the nose. Make sure that your mouth remains closed. Does the un-covered nostril collapse? If that is the case, then nasal respiration is most likely impaired. Do the test with both nostrils to see the results.
Afterwards, take an unused matchstick and try to carefully widen one of your nostrils with the wooden end of the stick. At the same time, keep the other nostril shut. If this made breathing in air much easier than before, you are probably suffering from nose snoring. This means that your nasal airways are blocked, which in turn obstructs nasal respiration.
Treatment Options for Nasal Snorers
Nasal dilators and nasal strips. The purpose of both is to expand the nostrils allowing air to flow freely through the nose.
Some people also find relief from nasal snoring by using a neti pot to irrigate the nasal passages. They can be especially helpful if you have allergies or a cold.
How Snoring Affects Relationships: Tongue Snorers
Tongue Snoring – With tongue the snoring, the noise occurs in bursts. Sometimes the tone can be higher than the typical snoring sound.
When the tongue falls to the back of the throat, it can block the airway causing snoring. This happens as the muscles that hold the tongue in place relax at night. Additionally, some people are just born with a large tongue (I’m looking at you Gene Simmons!).
Tongue snoring is considered “positional” snoring. In other words, it only occurs when the person is sleeping on their back. It’s in this position that the tongue falls back into the throat causing the snoring.
Here’s the test;
Try sleeping on your side or stomach, if your partner reports that you are no longer snoring then your tongue may be the issue.
Treatment Options for Tongue Snorers
There are generally two types of treatment options for tongue snorers. Tongue stabilization and positional.
Positional treatments rely on changing the position that the snorer sleeps in so that the tongue can’t fall to the back of the throat. One of the earliest methods was to sew a tennis ball into the back of the snorer’s pajamas forcing them to sleep on their side or stomach.
Fortunately, we have much better options today;
Anti-snoring pillows – These are pillows designed to elevate the head and neck, thus preventing the tongue from sliding back into the throat.
Adjustable beds – These are great for snorers and their spouses as each can adjust the bed for optional comfort.
Smart Nora – This is probably my favorite, it’s a small insert that fits in your pillow. When it detects snoring it silently adjusts the height of the pillow until the snoring stops. It will continue to monitor and adjust throughout the night.
Mandibular Advancement Device – The mandibular advancement device or MAD, is a fitted mouthpiece worn at night. The mouthpiece keeps the lower jaw from slipping backwards. This holds the tongue in place at the front of the mouth, keeping the airway open.
Tongue stabilization relies on the use of an oral appliance to keep the tongue in place so that it can’t fall into the back of the throat and block the airway. It’s true, a tongue stabilizing device (TSD) does look a little funny, but they are effective.
With mouth snoring, the sound is a rumbling or fluttery noise. People have described it as the of the sound of a slack sail fluttering in the wind.
How to Tell if You’re a Mouth Snorer
Mouth snoring occurs when the lower jaw relaxes and falls backwards. This pushes tissue into the airway blocking it and making the snoring sound.
Because the lower jaw is positioned at the back of the throat, most mouth snorer’s breath through their mouth at night. They also tend to sleep with their mouths open.
Open your mouth and try to make a snoring sound. Ask your partner to compare it to the sound you make when sleeping. If it’s the same, then you very likely are a mouth snorer.
Treatment Options for Mouth Snoring
Like tongue snoring, mouth snoring is considered “positional” snoring in that the lower jaw falls to the back of the throat when sleeping on your back.
And as such, some of the same methods used for tongue snoring can be effective for mouth snoring too.
Additionally, mouth snoring can be treated with the use of chin straps and mandibular advancement devices (MAD).
Both devices work on the same principle, keeping the airway open by holding the jaw forward.
Chin Strap – The anti-snoring chin strap works by keeping the mouth closed and thus holding the lower jaw in place. This forces the mouth snorer to breathe through the nose avoiding any obstructions in the mouth.
Mandibular Advancement Devices MAD – A MAD is a mouthpiece that looks and feels much like the one’s athletes use. This mouthpiece holds the lower jaw forward keeping it from slipping to the back of the throat. MAD devices are highly effective in relieving both mouth and tongue snoring.
So, here’s the bottom line;
How Snoring Affects Relationships: Conclusion
There are multiple ways that snoring affects relationships. Some are physical, some are psychological, but all of them are bad. The keys to keeping snoring from ruining a relationship lie in;
- Early recognition – So that you can address the problem before it gets worse.
- Open communication – So that you can be honest with each other about how it affects yourself and your relationship.
- Addressing the issue as a team – Snoring is always a relationship issue. Even if you don’t mind your partners’ snoring, it’s going to affect their health negatively, and that should be enough to act.
Just one more thing;
While we have talked about the different types of snoring and the various treatments based on type. It’s important to note that often the cause is multi-dimensional. Meaning that your snoring may be due to a combination of factors.
And as such, you may require a combination of treatments in order to get a handle on it. So, don’t be afraid to try several different solutions and even combine them. There is a solution if you’re willing to find it.
And finally, if your partner tells you that you stop breathing completely when you’re asleep, then this needs to be taken very seriously. This is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. A life threatening medical issue that needs immediate medical intervention. So, get to your doctor ASAP.
As always, we hope you found this article, “The Damage Done: How Snoring Affects Relationships” both informative and entertaining. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your friends and family through social media. It really helps us a lot and is greatly appreciated!