Alaska Sleep Education Center

How to Approach Your Partner about Sleep Apnea

Posted by Paisley Hansen on Sep 20, 2019 7:15:00 AM

Beautiful  couple sleeping at their house

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that in certain cases has caused death. Different levels of this disorder involve the brain, lungs, and throat, all of which are part of how you breathe or don’t breathe while sleeping.

Types of Apnea

There are three common types of apnea. There is “obstructive” apnea where your airway becomes blocked or narrowed as you sleep and you breathe harder making deep snoring sounds. Obstructive apnea is the most common type.

There is “central” apnea where the airway is open and free, but the brain does not give the respiratory muscles the right to breathe normally. Central apnea is more associated with medical conditions that affect the brain. The other sleep apnea condition is a combination of both.


The symptoms of this sleeping malady include the following:

  • dry mouth upon awakening
  • gasping for air during sleep
  • headaches
  • hypersomnia
  • insomnia
  • Irritability
  • loud snoring
  • mental fogginess

You’re Not Alone

The more common symptom is snoring. There are more than 22 million Americans who suffer from this disease. As a sleeping malady you are not alone. Many celebrities have openly admitted that they suffer from this sleeping disorder to help others - Shaquille O’Neal, William Shatner, Rosie O’Donnell, and Brett Favre just to name a few.

William Shatner and SoClean

Celebrities have admitted to this supposedly embarrassing disease so that people can receive help to remain healthy and alive. There are many individuals who do not admit that they have a snoring issue or they have not been told by their loved ones just as if it were a taboo disorder.

Health Side Effects

This hidden sleeping disease is suffered by not only the person with this disease but also by their bed partner. Unfortunately, this disruptive sleeping disorder has caused many couples to sleep in different rooms mainly due to the intense snoring sounds.

This sleep-related disease can cause illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. If you know that your loved one suffers from sleep apnea, encourage them to see a doctor. There are several treatments that can help give them a better night’s sleep and better overall health.

Should I Say Something – How?

How do you approach your loved ones about this life-endangering disease? Here are a few examples that will make it easier for you:

1. Support

It is commonly known that sleeping partners do not sleep well because their partner snores loudly each night. When you approach him or her with the news that they snore abusively, be supportive. Let your loved one know that snoring is a common disorder and it is not their fault.

Sleep apnea has several sources, like obesity, smoking, poor nutritional health, lack of nutritional minerals in the body, neck circumference, airway dysfunction, aging, or heredity. Snoring occurs in children, men, and women.

It has a reputation of occurring largely in the male population. Men don’t like to admit that they have a problematic snoring habit. They will probably say that yes they may snore, but that you are blowing it out of proportion. This is a good time to tiptoe around apnea sleeping problems so that no feelings get hurt. Whatever the cause, your loved one needs to see a doctor.

2. Record

Making a video or a recording is a great conclusive evidence. You will find that not everyone takes hearing the news that they have this sleeping disorder in a friendly manner.

Taking a video or audio recording is one of the best methods to prove your snoring argument. Also, save the video or recording because your doctor will also find it helpful in properly diagnosing the type of apnea your loved one has.

As an addendum, to keep arguments from forming, please choose the right time to talk about snoring. Do not mention it just as you both are going to bed nor if you are already in bed.

These times affect people personally and they see it as an affront. You will never get through to your partner like that. Wait for a time when everyone is relaxed to bring it up nicely and with concern.

3. Ask Family and Friends

Some diseases can carry the title of being “rare.” However, sleep apnea is not one of them. There are at least 1 or 2 friends or family members who also have this common sleep-related disorder.

Ask people you know about their experience with apnea and find out how they have dealt with its existence and if they have sought relief.

If they are familiar with the disorder and found help, bring your sleeping partner together with them and openly communicate about it.


4. Each One Teach One

The more you know about a topic, the better your communication will be with your bed partner in their acceptance of snoring discussions. Please note that snoring is not the only symptom of apnea while sleeping. Your loved one’s overall health is at stake and snoring can be identified as a sign of other problems.

Even though snoring is not a deadly symptom, you can talk to your partner about the other problems associated with this apnea. Talk about your concerns for their health and how important it is that they seek help. Let them know that you are willing to walk a mile in their shoes, noting that they are not alone.

Research this topic for yourself and become familiar with the help that someone who snores can receive, i.e., CPAP devices, attending a sleep center, and mouthpieces. There are also certain medications that help stimulate breathing.

A new FDA therapy has been introduced called “ phrenic nerve stimulation that is implanted to send signals to the throat to control your breathing. If your snoring is related to a defect in the thoracic system, then there is a minor surgical procedure to help correct it.

Also, remember that snoring can be related to something as simple as a throat problem that can be corrected with minimal surgery or a dietary problem that can be eliminated by changing your diet.

Sleep Health End Note

Ensure your partner that seeking a snoring solution helps both of you. Snoring is a health indicator that they need to be examined to make sure that they don’t have any hidden health issues.

The tips above can help to make a snoring conversation easier for both of you without people getting their feelings hurt. Remember to be empathetic, informed, patient, and affectionate in your conversation about sleep apnea.

For more, watch Alaska Sleep Clinic on "Moms Everyday" discussing tips on how to talk to your partner about sleep apnea.

Watch "Moms" Episodes

Topics: Snoring, life with sleep apnea, partner, marriage

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