Snoring is a surprisingly common issue which couples have to deal on a regular basis. Whether it’s elbowing your partner and saying, “Roll over; you are snoring in my ear,” or suffering with repeated partial waking throughout the night, snoring can put a serious burden on both the person snoring and his or her partner.
Some couples simply learn to deal with the inconvenience; some seek treatment for snoring. For others, the issue actually puts a serious strain on the relationship.
Loss of Sleep
People who snore can waken fully or partially over 25 times per hour every night. Their partners, on the other hand, may be awakened by the snoring over 20 times an hour, nearly as often.
This interruption in the sleep cycle results in fatigue and loss of focus during the day. This in turn may result in loss of productivity at work, increased chances of illness and mood swings that can upset the balance at home.
Avoiding the Problem
Snoring becomes a serious issue in relationships when one or both parties ignore the problem. People avoid the necessary discussion because we are hardwired to avoid conflict. The idea of the inevitable argument or of hurting our significant other makes us feel afraid, anxious and even guilty.
Unfortunately, avoiding this problem only makes the situation worse. Resentment can build up over time. The person who snores is often either unaware that they are doing so, or is unaware that it presents a problem. This is a condition that psychologists refer to as “learned helplessness,” where we convince ourselves there is nothing that can be done.
Sleeping on the Couch
Not only might snoring cause emotional distance and building resentment, but it can actually cause physical distance that creates a lack of intimacy between partners. In some cases, on partner gets so fed up and frustrated with the issue that they decide to go sleep on the couch.
Closeness is important for couples to maintain intimacy, and physical closeness is as important as emotional closeness; in fact, they are intertwined. Sleeping on the couch is not a solution; it is a symptom of a greater problem that should really be addressed.
Addressing the Issue
At some point, the problem needs to be placed on the table and discussed openly if it is to be solved. The partner who snores must then take the complaint seriously and not laugh it off or just suggest a good elbowing in the side.
While it may be inconvenient, visiting your doctor is a good idea, and a trip to a sleep clinic may be necessary.
Whatever approach you decide to take, the non-snoring party should make sure to thank the snorer for making an effort to take care of the issue. Give credit where credit is due; everyone likes to have their efforts acknowledged.
Snoring is a major issue that should be addressed and can be managed; make sure to talk to your partner openly about these things, and address the issue directly. Snoring does not have to ruin your relationship!
By Ramie A Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT