Are they snoring so much that the dog leaves the room? Another sleepless night? More like another week! If your partner (or pet) snores, there is no question you are dealing with night after night of disrupted sleep. This can cause irritability, frustration and resentment, it lowers sex drive and increases blood pressure all of which create relationship tension in and out of the bedroom. If you snore, your sleep may also be disrupted by your own poor breathing or by pokes, prods and pushes (kicks) from your partner. You likely feel the effects of sleep deprivation, too, and you may also feel misunderstood, ashamed or defensive. Is this really my fault?
The good news is that snoring doesn’t have to control the quality of your sleep or of your relationship. In fact, a thoughtful and loving conversation about it can help improve both, and you won’t even need a therapist or referee!
Since Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and a day to shower our loved ones with a bounty of affection, romance and intimacy, what better day to talk with your loved one about their snoring? Really, it’s one of the most loving things you can do (can you say “megift” anyone?). Let’s review a few tips to ensure the conversation is a positive step forward for both of you.
Prioritize your relationship.
Let your partner know that you love them and that you want to discuss their snoring so you can both take steps toward improving your relationship. We often think of snoring as just a sleep problem, but the fact of the matter is it can impact nearly every aspect of a relationship, from communication to intimacy to sex. So be honest about how your loved one’s snoring makes you feel and the impact you think it’s having on you and your relationship. Prepare for them to get a little defensive, but assure them that there are solutions that do not require the guest room.
Own your part.
Do you nudge, shove or kick your partner in an effort to quiet their snoring? Do you storm out of the room? Maybe you yell at your loved one in the middle of the night or even the next day, or you quietly seethe while plotting your revenge. You may think these behaviors are justified, but they’re quite unproductive and are negatively affecting your relationship just as much as your loved one’s snoring. Acknowledge this, own it and apologize if necessary.
If your partner knows they snore, they may feel embarrassed or ashamed. Approaching the conversation with compassion and understanding rather than anger and blame will help you to have a more productive conversation. Remember, your partner doesn’t snore because they want to irritate you; they snore either due to the anatomy of their mouth and nose or their lifestyle choices, some of which they may not even realize are contributing factors to their snoring.
Snoring can be a health issue for you and your snoring loved one. By having a conversation about snoring, you could literally save your loved one’s life. The lack of sleep you’re experiencing can lead to daytime drowsiness or fatigue, poor food choices, and depression. I’ve discussed before the problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and a low sex drive, for example. For your loved one, long-term snoring can result in an irregular heartbeat, stroke, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and decreased sexual satisfaction among many other conditions. Sleep apnea, a severe form of sleep disordered breathing (snoring is a mild form of this) in which the person experiences repeated pauses in breathing, can even result in death and requires early medical intervention.
There are many anti-snoring solutions and devices that can help minimize the incidence of snoring for the majority of snorers. Taking the time to research these options and suggest a few to try will demonstrate that you’re not trying to start a fight but rather help your loved one resolve their snoring. My favorite device is Mute nasal dilators. These FDA-approved devices, which won a 2021 Health Magazine Sleep Award, sit just inside the nose and open the nasal passages to improve airflow. This encourages breathing through the nose instead of snoring through the mouth. They’re very discreet, and they come in three sizes to help everyone get a comfortable fit.
Valentine’s Day is upon us. I think it’s time to kiss your loved one’s snoring goodbye and embrace better sleep and a better relationship.
Michael J. Breus, PhD., DABSM
The Sleep Doctor™