Couples Sleep

Your Partner's Sleep Disorder May Be the Culprit

Throughout most of her 11-year marriage, Diana couldn't get a good night's sleep. Her husband Joe snored so loudly even earplugs wouldn't block out the noise.

"It was like an engine," she explained. "The sound just echoed. It hit his pillow, then traveled through the mattress to my side of the bed."

Every morning she woke up tired and cranky-and often angry with her husband for keeping her awake. Her husband wasn't getting a restful night's sleep either, so he'd load up on sugar and caffeine and would sometimes take an afternoon nap. Many an evening out was cut short because she or her husband was too exhausted from lack of sleep the night before. On one vacation, his snoring forced them to sleep in separate rooms-not exactly her idea of a romantic getaway.

Diana's husband is one of 70 million Americans who suffer from a sleep disorder. When left untreated, sleep disorders can not only cause serious health problems ranging from heart disease and stroke to hypertension and diabetes, but also can negatively impact a person's relationships-especially with a significant other.

According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, one-third of adults with partners say their loved one's sleep problems have caused stress in their relationships. A quarter of those surveyed said they have sex less often because they are too sleepy. And 31 percent said they had to take preventive measures, such as sleeping on the couch or in another room, to get a good night's sleep because of their partner's sleep problem.

Many women think that they just have to put up with their partner's snoring and sleep in separate rooms night after night. That's not good for your health or for your relationship.

The RWJ Comprehensive Sleep Center program diagnosed Diana's husband with sleep apnea last year after completing two overnight sleep studies. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that disrupts a person's sleep and is usually accompanied by snoring. Since then, Joe uses a special machine that applies pressure through a nasal mask to keep his airway open during sleep. His snoring has stopped and both he and his wife are sleeping soundly and are more energized throughout the day.

"There has been such a tremendous difference in our lives," says Diana. "It is amazing what a good night's sleep can do!"

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