Snoring is not only a problem for the snorer and his or her health, but it can put a significant strain on your relationship. If one person is snoring, it often means trouble for both partners. Not only that snoring often causes daytime sleepiness on both sides, but it can also interfere with sexual and emotional intimacy as couples end up sleeping in separate bedrooms.
Let’s be honest: If you are the one lying wide awake at night because he or she snores you can’t help yourself but feeling resentful – no matter how much you love your partner. On the other hand, if you are the one who snores you may feel guilty, ashamed, and helpless because of your partner’s frustration about something you can’t control.
It almost seems silly that snoring can cause such turmoil in your relationship; however, it’s a widespread and real problem. The key to keeping a snoring problem from hurting your relationship is for both partners to understand that snoring is a symptom of a physical condition that can be treated.
What causes snoring?
Snoring occurs when the air can’t move freely through your mouse and nose during sleep. When you breathe, the walls of the throat start to vibrate, which produces the characteristic snoring sound. The narrower your airway is, the stronger the vibration and the louder you’re snoring. If you are a chronic snorer, you may have too much throat, and nasal tissue or the position of your tongue is what’s preventing you from breathing smoothly.
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To find the right solution to quiet sleep, it’s important to understand the common causes of your snoring.
What are the common causes of snoring?
- Age. During the normal aging process, the muscle tone in your throat decreases and your throat becomes narrower. While you can’t control getting older, specific lifestyle changes and throat exercises can help to prevent snoring.
- Being overweight or obese. Having a lot of fatty tissue and poor muscle tone around the neck contribute to snoring. Losing weight through dieting and exercising may stop you snoring.
- Anatomical abnormalities. The reason why men are more likely to snore than women is that they often have narrower air passages. Those physical attributes are often hereditary. While you can’t do anything about the way you’re built, there are ways to control your snoring including appropriate lifestyle changes, bedtime routines, and throat exercises.
- Sinus problems and allergies. Inflammation of the nose and swollen or blocked airways can cause difficulty breathing and create a vacuum in the throat, which in turn leads to snoring.
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- Sleep position. As sleeping on your back may cause the muscle tone of your throat to relax and block the airway, changing your sleep position is sometimes all it takes to cure your snoring.
- Alcohol, smoking, and certain medications such as tranquilizers and antihistamines are potent muscle relaxants; especially taken in the evening, they can cause more snoring. If possible, avoid any of these before at least four hours before bedtime.
Ruling out more severe causes of snoring
Your snoring could be an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where your breathing is briefly interrupted many times each night. The adverse effect on the quality of your sleep is much stronger with sleep apnea than with normal snoring.
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Two of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring with choking and gasping during sleep and extreme daytime sleepiness. If you or your bed partner have noticed any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.
Why is it that snoring causes so much trouble within a relationship?
Restful and rejuvenating sleep is our #1 resource to relieve stress and to restore our body. Any kind of sleep disruption leads to poorer sleep and strongly affects the mental and physical repairing process we undergo during the night. Sleep deprivation weakens your immune system and hampers your thinking skills and judgment.
Not only that you feel tired and lack energy during the day, but you become easily irritable and short-tempered. That is where poor sleep due to one person snoring can develop its negative dynamics within a relationship. Lack of sleep is one of the main reasons why you lose the ability to manage conflict well.
Let’s say you get into a stressful situation like an argument with your partner. When you are sleep deprived chances are that you have problems controlling your negative feelings and you lose your ability to empathize. That means you have difficulties in understanding and feeling what your partner is feeling. You may feel less appreciative of your partner and experience greater feelings of selfishness.
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Collaborative communication is often not possible in those situations, and you and your partner miss the opportunity to talk openly and effectively through the snoring problem. Especially if snoring itself becomes the prime focus of the conflict.
What if snoring creates growing resentment within the relationship?
Snoring often affects the sleep patterns of the non-snorer more because the snorer sleeps through it. If you are the one who doesn’t snore you are either disturbed by the noise, or you keep lying awake in bed worrying about when your partner’s snoring is going to start. You can’t help it but start feeling increasingly resentful about your snoring partner.
You may even have shaken, nudged, or kicked your partner to stop the noise, and eventually escaped the sleepless partner to an uncomfortable night on the couch. For a good reason: Snores can range anything between 60 decibels – the volume of a normal conversation – and up to 100 decibels, which is as loud as a chainsaw.
However, if you are the snorer, you may grow a feeling of guilt and shame about the sleep disruption you cause. The most frustrating thing is that snoring is something you can’t control because you are fast asleep.
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You might even have no idea that you were snoring until your partner keeps on complaining: “You kept me again up all night with your snoring!” First, this may feel like it an unfair criticism, but when you see your loved one suffering from lack of energy and moodiness during the day, you start feeling embarrassed and helpless.
Frustration and resentment on one side of the bed and shame and guilt on the other can be a real source of irritation and isolation, no matter how much you love your partner.
Is sleeping in separate beds a solution when one partner snores?
Sleeping in separate rooms may be a solution, and it is estimated that around one-third of the couples make use of their spare bedroom. Especially if there are also other reasons like different schedules, bedtimes or sleep preferences (air temperature, level of darkness, etc.), it may suit them well.
However, not spending long enough in the same bed can damage the intimacy in your relationship. If you like to roll over in the morning to cuddle and to give your loved one a kiss, sleeping apart is not really an option. Not to mention any spontaneous sex you might be missing out.
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You and your partner, both may end up feeling lonely and isolated, maybe even with growing resentments as the separation is seen by both of your as unfair punishment.
How to deal with a snoring problem in your relationship?
When addressing the snoring issue, it is crucial to understand each other’s perspectives. On that basis, you can work together to find a solution. This is also a good opportunity to improve the quality of your relationship and to become more deeply connected.
If you are the snorer, you may feel a little hurt when your partner complains about your snoring. That is understandable since snoring is nothing to be embarrassed about. However, if you value your relationship, the most important things are to take your partner seriously and to seek treatment.
Don’t make the mistake to minimize your partner’s complaints. Lack of sleep is a serious health risk and can make your partner feel miserable all day. Also, make it your priority to cure your snoring. The greatest resentment is created when your partner has the feeling you don’t take any action. He or she may think that you don’t care about their needs. This could lead to a bigger problem in your relationship than snoring.
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In case you are the one who suffers from your partner’s snoring, approach the problem sensitively and in a non-confrontational way. Keep in mind that your partner likely feels defensive and vulnerable about their snoring. Sure, you are irritated and frustrated for not getting enough restful sleep. However, remember that your partner’s snoring isn’t intentional. You want to attack the snoring problem and not your partner.
The right communication when one partner snores
Prioritize the relationship: Make sure that you and your partner have a common understanding that the issue is not about the relationship itself but about finding a cure for the snoring. You love each other, just not the snoring.
The right timing: Avoid discussing the problem when both of you are feeling tired. Addressing the snoring in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning might only lead to bitterness and further exhaustion on both sides. Talk when both of you are well-rested.
Don’t take it personally: Snoring easily creates frustration on both sides. Both partners need to keep in mind that the discussion about snoring is not a personal critique or attack. It is about finding the best possible solution for an effective cure.
Take it with humor: A humorous and playful approach by both partners help to ease tension and to deal with the problem in a more relaxed way. After all, snoring is a physical issue that can be treated and not the end of the world.
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Consider each other’s perspectives: Keep in mind that both of you have legitimate concerns and it’s crucial that you take each other seriously while neither is trying to hurt each other.
Make sure that snoring is the real issue: Make sure that your discussions about the snoring problem aren’t an excuse for other hidden, much more far-reaching relationship problems.
Remember, working as a team is the best way to find a solution, and to prevent that something like snoring doesn’t hurt your relationship.