Should I Worry About My Partner’s Snoring?

Chances are, you have stumbled upon this blog because your spouse snores loudly, and it is starting to affect your life. Sleeping next to someone who snores loudly can be a huge challenge and can cause a lot of issues in your life and relationship. You might be resentful of them, have trouble getting a good night’s sleep because of them, or you may even need to sleep in separate rooms because of the snoring. If your partner snores loudly night after night and you’re starting to worry if it is affecting their health, keep reading to learn more about whether you should worry about your partner’s snoring and if it could be a sign of sleep apnea.

Why Snoring Occurs

According to the Sleep Foundation, habitual snoring occurs in around 40% of adult women and 57% of adult men, and some people snore regularly without any other sleep-related symptoms. However, snoring can be caused by a sleep disorder called sleep apnea, which disrupts sleep and can lead to other health issues. Snoring happens when air cannot flow freely through the airway as you breathe in and out during sleep. When the airway is narrowed or partially blocked, breathing causes the tissues of the upper airway to vibrate, resulting in the sound you hear when someone snores. There are many possible reasons that a person may have a chronically narrowed or blocked airway during sleep that causes snoring.

Some of the reasons that a person could have a chronically narrowed or blocked airway during sleep that causes snoring, also according to the Sleep Foundation, include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea. OSA is marked by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep due to partial or complete collapse of the airway. People with sleep apnea tend to snore loudly with periods of silence as breathing stops. When they resume breathing, it can sound like gasping or snorting.
  • Alcohol and sedative medication. Alcohol and other sedatives cause snoring by relaxing the muscles that support tissue around the airway.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking is another risk factor for snoring. It’s not clear exactly why people who smoke are more likely to snore, but researchers propose that it may be due to upper airway inflammation and edema in smokers.
  • Natural anatomy of the head and neck. The size and shape of certain structures can constrict the airway and lead to snoring, for example, in people born with a deviated septum.
  • Chronic congestion. It is normal to snore while sick or suffering from allergies. Having a stuffy nose during sleep may lead to snoring by reducing the flow of air through the airway and causing the airway to collapse.
  • Sleep position. Snoring occurs more often when you are laying on your back, also called the supine position. You might be used to nudging your partner to lay on their stomach to help stop the snoring.
  • Weight. Having extra tissue in the neck can lead to a smaller airway size and an increased susceptibility to airway collapse.
  • Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland under-functions14 and does not produce enough thyroid hormone. If left untreated, it leads to symptoms such as a puffy face, hoarse voice, slow speech, and slow heart rate, which can cause snoring.

Understanding Snoring as a Sign of Sleep Apnea

According to The American Sleep Apnea Association, snoring is one of the indicators of sleep apnea, which is a chronic condition characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. When people with sleep apnea fall asleep, they can stop breathing for 10 seconds or more, even up to a minute or more. Both conditions can be caused or made worse by obesity, large tongue and tonsils, aging, and head and neck shape. Often, snoring can be dismissed as a natural part of aging. While it’s true that snoring can increase over time with age and weight gain, it should not be accepted as an ordinary and standard juncture in life. It can and often should be treated – for the sake of the snorer and their partner.

Watch Out For These Other Symptoms

Other symptoms of sleep apnea, according to Cleveland Clinic, aside from snoring, include:

  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue.
  • Restlessness during sleep, frequent nighttime awakenings.
  • Sudden awakenings with a sensation of gasping or choking.
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening.
  • Cognitive impairment, such as trouble concentrating, forgetfulness or irritability.
  • Mood disturbances (depression or anxiety).
  • Night sweats.
  • Frequent nighttime urination.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Headaches.

Additional symptoms of sleep apnea in children include:

  • Poor school performance.
  • Sluggishness or sleepiness, often misinterpreted as laziness in the classroom.
  • Daytime mouth breathing and swallowing difficulty.
  • Inward movement of the rib cage when inhaling.
  • Unusual sleeping positions, such as sleeping on the hands and knees, or with the neck hyper-extended.
  • Excessive sweating at night.
  • Learning and behavioral disorders (hyperactivity, attention deficits).
  • Bedwetting.

When to Talk to Your Partner About Their Snoring

If your partner’s snoring is affecting your quality of sleep, it is time to talk to them about their snoring and ways to fix it. If you also notice any of the above symptoms of sleep apnea, it is especially time to start speaking with them about their snoring and ways to treat it before it leads to more concerning health issues.

Most people who suffer from sleep apnea are unaware of it, which is one of many reasons why so many cases of sleep apnea go untreated. One of the only ways an individual comes to the realization that they need medical help for their snoring is when their partner brings it to their attention.

Tips for speaking about your partner about their snoring include:

  • Come from a place of concern for their health, rather than annoyance at their snoring
  • Encourage them to seek treatment by presenting the benefits of sleep apnea treatment
  • If possible, record them (with their permission) to demonstrate the extent of the snoring

How to Get Help for Snoring and Sleep Apnea

If the doctor agrees that an individual is presenting the symptoms of sleep apnea, they may be asked to participate in a sleep study. This will help the doctors better understand the source of the sleep apnea, the location of the obstruction, and much more to help guide them on the right course of treatment.

Some ways to treat sleep apnea include:

  • Lifestyle changes. In many cases of mild sleep apnea, some simple lifestyle changes can help significantly. These include losing weight, cutting back on alcohol, quitting smoking, avoiding sleeping pills or drowsy medication, the use of a wedge pillow, or using breathing strips.
  • Healthy bedtime routine. By avoiding sleep deprivation and sticking to a healthy bedtime routine, mild cases of sleep apnea can be treated.
  • Medical devices. According to Cleveland Clinic, Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy is a popular initial treatment for most people with obstructive sleep apnea. This includes CPAP machines, among others. While helpful, they can be bulky, uncomfortable, loud, and difficult to travel with.
  • Dental appliances. In many instances, moving the jaw slightly forward can help open the airway and stop snoring and other sleep apnea symptoms. This is achieved through a dental mouthpiece, which is much more discreet and comfortable than a CPAP machine.
  • Surgery. Surgical removal of the obstruction that is causing the snoring is a more permanent, long-term fix for sleep apnea. Surgeries such as the removal of tonsils, fixing a deviated septum, other nasal surgeries, or correction of other facial abnormalities are some examples.

Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can cause repeated episodes of oxygen lowering (what doctors call hypoxia), changes in carbon dioxide levels, direct effects on the heart due to pressure changes within the chest, and increased levels of markers of inflammation. Due to this, some of the dangers of untreated sleep apnea, also according to Cleveland Clinic, include:

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Arrhythmias
  • Cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the muscle tissue of the heart)
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart attacks

It’s likely that sleep apnea can cause arrhythmias and heart failure because if you have sleep apnea, you tend to have higher blood pressure. In fact, sleep apnea occurs in about 50% of people with heart failure or atrial fibrillation.

Other issues include:

  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Memory loss
  • Lack of energy
  • Drowsy driving
  • Excessive stress
  • Cardiovascular strain
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Depression

Treatment For Sleep Apnea at Gorman Health and Wellness

Sleep apnea can cause painful, debilitating, life-altering, and dangerous health issues. This is why if you are worried about your partner’s snoring, it is essential that you talk with them as soon as possible. It is highly likely that they have no idea they are snoring so loudly, and treatment of their snoring will help positively impact their quality of life in many ways.

Dr. Gorman is a part of the breathing wellness movement, which aims to increase awareness and improve treatment for sleep-related airway conditions like sleep apnea. He has partnered with organizations focused on collaborating with dentists to apply the sciences of Craniofacial Epigenetics (the study of cranial modifications caused by gene expression as opposed to genetic code alteration) and Pneumopedics® (the practical application of oral appliance therapy and non-surgical airway remodeling) in the management of sleep apnea.

Together, the application of these sciences allows for underlying causes of airway obstruction to be treated in 98% of cases, resulting in a high success rate among sleep apnea patients. For every sleep apnea case at our practice, Dr. Gorman will gather patient data and determine the patient’s specific needs based on home sleep test results, dental impressions, CT scans, and images. Our state-of-the-art technology, paired with Dr. Gorman’s experience with sleep disorders, allows him to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual’s particular case, yielding improved daytime and nighttime breathing for the patient.

“I have been helping people suffering from Sleep Apnea with a non-invasive, clinically approved treatment method. This method has allowed my patients to sleep with far fewer events per hour allowing them to get rid of their CPAP and BiPAP machines. Imagine not having to use one of those machines, getting back a much greater quality of life along with the benefits of being able to breathe better.” – Dr. Gorman.

For more information on Dr. Gorman, improving your sleep apnea, contact us today.

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