The effect of snoring in relationships has become something of a running joke – but it does have more than a grain of truth to it. According to Cure My Sleep Apnea, snoring is the third biggest cause for divorce in the United States, just behind infidelity and financial troubles.
And it’s not just the Americans – snoring is now recognized as legitimate grounds for divorce in the United Kingdom.
Closer to home, research has shown that 200,000 Australian couples no longer sleep in the same beds due to snoring, among other reasons.
Here’s how snoring is destroying your marriage.
The Mayo Clinic Proceedings has found that spouses lose at least one hour of sleep per night due to secondhand snoring. A study by John Shepard M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, conducted a study that looked into the sleep efficiency of married couples in which one partner was a frequent and heavy snorer. Sleep efficiency is calculated based on time spent asleep versus time spent in bed.
The study found that the partners’ sleep efficiency went from 74% to 87% when snoring was alleviated or reduced, showing just how much they suffered from poor sleep quality as a result of snoring.
Poor sleep quality results in tiredness, irritability, depression, burnout, and difficulty concentrating during the day.
It can also result in deep resentments. Non-snorers tend to resent their partner for preventing them from getting some shuteye, while snorers resent their partner for making an issue out of their snoring and forcing them to address it.
David Volpi, M.D. notes in the Huffington Post that he has encountered many such couples in his practice.
If your spouse’s snoring is causing you to lose sleep, know that there are many options for non-surgical treatment. The use of nasal dilators, for example, can help your partner snore less at night.
Mute opens the nose and improves airflow to help you snore less, breathe more, and sleep better at night. Frequent snorers swear by this portable drug-free nasal dilator. Your partner will thank you for it.
Separate bedrooms, separate lives
When snoring goes unaddressed, couples end up sleeping in separate bedrooms, a practice that the New York Times calls a “sleep divorce”.
A Better Sleep Council survey found that one in every four participating couples slept separately in order to get a good night’s sleep. Moreover, 46% of 2,000 respondents polled last year by OnePoll on behalf of Slumber Cloud expressed a desire to sleep apart from their spouses.
According to Houston-based intimacy and relationship psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini, a spouse’s disruptive sleeping habits can increase the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the other spouse, affecting the relationship as a whole. This makes sleeping in separate bedrooms a sensible option that might just make co-habitation more bearable for you and your partner.
And while sleeping in separate bedrooms is a private choice many couples make, it’s always worth addressing the culprit – snoring – before moving your things to the spare bedroom. Getting to the root cause of your snoring, whether it’s persistent nasal congestion or excess weight around the neck, might do wonders for your marriage.
The link between snoring and arguing
A study by Rush University Medical Center, which involved 10 married participants, evaluated sleepiness, quality of life, and marriage satisfaction among wives whose husbands snored heavily. The findings? Couples with snoring sleep issues argue more and tend to have more disagreements than their non-snoring counterparts.
The study also found that couples who were living with snoring had a higher divorce rate.
Rosalind Cartwright, PhD, founder of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Medical Center, says that the lack of sleep creates a tense and hostile situation for spouses, putting a strain on the marriage.
One participant in the study woke up eight times throughout the night as a result of her husband’s snoring, placing her sleep efficiency at just 73%, as opposed to normal sleep efficiency levels of 90%, despite her attempts to remedy the situation by wearing earplugs and earphones.
Another study from Paracelsus Private Medical University found that sleep issues and relationship troubles take place simultaneously, while a study by the University of California, Berkeley revealed that a sleepless night caused by disturbances from a partner can produce relationship conflicts the following day.
If you find yourself or your partner more irritable during the day, the key to understanding irritability might lie in your sleeping habits as a couple. Making healthy changes to your lifestyle, such as avoiding alcohol and heavy meals before bed, can help reduce snoring.
So the next time your partner comments on your snoring, don’t take it the wrong way. Take it as an attempt to address the elephant in the room. Snoring is very common and nothing to be ashamed of. What’s more is that there are many potential solutions in the market including over-the-counter, non-medicinal sleep aids.