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A Conversation Guide: How to talk to your partner about their snoring.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022 - Facts about sleep

Did you know that 40% of adult men and 24% of adult women are habitual snorers?

Having a partner who snores once in a while, may be a slight inconvenience (one of many!). However, a partner who snores every night can disrupt your lifestyle. You may feel tired during the day, unable to concentrate on daily activities, and you may find yourself dozing off at unconventional times. Regular sleep deprivation can eventually lead to frustration, anger and resentment toward your partner.  

Your bed partner’s snoring is just as much their problem, as it is yours! Maybe you’ve considered ear plugs, sleeping in a different room, or even suggested questionable home remedies. But, this doesn’t solve your problem forever! 

Snoring may be caused by undiagnosed sleep apnea, which can give rise to more serious health problems for your partner. It can lead to chronic diseases such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes and more. Sleep apnea treatment will improve their (and your!) quality of life, offering long-term health benefits. But, how do you bring up the sensitive topic of snoring?

Many snorers feel embarrassed or attacked when confronted about their snoring. They can become defensive, and feel like you are bringing up an issue that feels trivial to them. You may feel selfish at first, but the longer you put off ‘the talk’ the more you are harming yourself and your partner.

When should you bring up the ‘‘S’’ word?

Choose a quiet time to talk to your partner. You may increase the chances of an argument if they are already occupied with something else on their mind. A calm evening could be an ideal time for ‘‘the talk’’.

Snoring affects 54% of married couples in Canada.

Start out by gently addressing your concerns and seeing how they respond. It is common at first, for snorers to deny that they snore. They don’t hear themselves at night, so they may find it hard to believe. They have not heard how loud or disturbing their snoring can be, so they may downplay it by saying, ”it’s not so bad!”. Ask your partner if you could capture a short video or audio recording of them snoring, prior to your conversation. Presenting evidence can help them hear that there is indeed a problem—now you can both work on a solution together! Let your partner know that you care about their well-being and are concerned about the risks of poor sleep.

Does your partner feel embarrassed about snoring?

You will need to consider the stigma associated with snoring. Women tend to feel more embarrassed than men when admitting to snoring. Social stigma and underestimating their snoring as ‘‘mild’’ can prevent several women from getting the care that they need. This is why it is important to reassure your partner that snoring doesn’t change your feelings toward them, as they are not snoring on purpose. There are multiple reasons that can cause snoring, one of which is sleep apnea.

When addressing a sensitive topic that is associated with stigma, show them your support through:

  • Kind language
  • Listening
  • Open conversation
  • Educating yourself about snoring and sleep apnea

Identify your partner’s concerns about seeking medical consultation by having an open conversation. Your partner could be nervous about surgery as a potential treatment. They may worry that diagnosis could lead to discussions about other serious health concerns. They may be concerned about the stigma associated with sleep apnea, particularly restrictions with driving. Helping your partner address their concerns openly, will help you understand their apprehension. Showing compassion and being supportive of their feelings can help them get the treatment they need.

Having the conversation about snoring with your partner?

Choose your words carefully when having a conversation. Your words have a lot of power, so, paying attention to the type of language you use can make all the difference in where the conversation leads:

Discouraging Language

“I can’t sleep because of you!” 

“Your snoring is driving me crazy. Don’t you care about me?”

“How many times do I have to tell you that your snoring is loud—go sleep on the couch or the other room!”

“You sleep like a baby, while I haven’t slept at all. You are so selfish!”

 

 

Supportive Language

“I care about you and your health.

I have noticed that your snoring is loud [present evidence] and I’ve been reading about the long-term effects of snoring and sleep apnea online.

I will share the information with you and I’d love for you to make an appointment to see a doctor.”

“I love you and I miss sleeping in the same bed. I understand it is hard for both of us. I’ve noticed that you snore and gasp for air at night.

Would you be open to taking a short sleep apnea quiz online? It will help identify if you are snoring due to untreated sleep apnea.

If we can find out sooner, you can get the treatment and support you need.”

“I have been reading about a great new product online that helps with snoring. Would you be open to trying it out?”

 

 


Your partner may be trying to process a lot of new information presented to them, so give them time to absorb it. You want them to be on the same page as you, but they need time and information to get there. Presenting information you have read online about sleep apnea and therapy helps relieve some of the pressure on your partner. Reassuring them that you care about their health and want to support them on the journey to recovery can strengthen your relationship, while getting you back to sleeping well!

Step by step guide on seeking treatment for Sleep Apnea

Bring awareness to your partner about their snoring.

Have an open conversation about the concern for yours’ and your partner’s health caused by sleep deprivation, fatigue and sleep apnea.

Educate yourself and your partner about the risks of undiagnosed sleep apnea.

→ Encourage your partner to take the sleep quiz and consult with your family physician.

If you want more information about sleep apnea, our clinicians would be pleased to speak with you, please contact us. We are here to help you and your loved one.

References:

Snoring. Sleep Education. (2021, May 6). Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://sleepeducation.org/sleep-disorders/snoring/#what-is-snoring

Ipsos Reid Corp. (2006). MOST MARRIED CANADIANS (54%) DEAL WITH A SNORING PARTNER. Retrieved from https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/publication/2006-10/mr061019-2.pdf 

Melentii, E. (2011, January 18). How to deal with a snoring spouse. Reader's Digest Canada. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/how-deal-snoring-spouse/   

Larson, J. (2020, September 28). How to sleep when someone is snoring: 7 strategies to try. Healthline. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-sleep-when-someone-is-snoring 

 

About the Author

Dr. Raymond Gottschalk MB ChB, FRCPC, FCCP. D, ABIM, D, ABSM Sleep

Dr. Raymond Gottschalk is the medical director for VitalAire Canada and is co-chair of the sleep medicine training program at McMaster University with Dr. Juliana Li. Dr. Gottschalk is also the co-chair for the CPSO task force in sleep medicine and helped co-author the CPSO guidelines for the IHF in sleep and respiratory medicine. He has clinics in St Catharines, Hamilton and in the Cambridge Memorial Hospital.

Tags: Sleep apnea Snoring