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Snoring Can Kill Your Night, Your Relationship, and Even You

May 16, 2011 Features 26 Comments
sleepapnea

Johni Danes
Staff Writer
Photo Courtesy of: North Shore Medical Center

There’s nothing worse than when you’re lying cozily in bed, eyes wilting, ready to drift off to dreamland, when a sound like a dying hog begins to resonate around the room. You can try to stuff a pillow over your ears or put on some headphones, but in the end, your nice, peaceful attempt at sleep has had an annoying roadblock.

There is nothing worse than He or She Who Snores.

Unfortunately, I’ve had plenty of experience in this area. My boyfriend is an all-time champ at snoring, and there have been many nights I’ve had to kick, punch, or bite to get him to stop shaking the walls with the noise that emerges from his mouth and nose region.

Luckily, I’m a very deep sleeper who falls asleep easily, so my boyfriend’s obnoxious nocturnal noises don’t bother me too much. But, much like many young women who live in the college town of Isla Vista, CA, I have a roommate. My roommate happens to be the type of sleeper who is extremely picky about her surroundings and can’t fall asleep if there’s the least bit of noise in the room.

Suffice it to say, this was not good news.

On the nights my boyfriend was in town, my roommate complained to me about his snoring. There were nights she would get up and go sleep in the living room, or nights when she would complain about hardly getting any sleep. Of course, this led to both my boyfriend and I feeling extremely guilty and miserable because we hate being inconsiderate.

The next step? Search for a solution to the problem.

Bonnye Johnston, Office Manager for Dr. Mark T. Weiser, D.D.S., said snoring can be caused by a vast array of problems.

“In children, usually it’s caused by [enlarged] tonsils and adenoids,” she said. “As patients grow older, the elasticity of the muscles in the neck relaxes, and the muscle tissue collapses into the throat…the airway is closed and the patient is struggling for breath.”

According to a study released by the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 63 percent of college students do not get enough sleep at night.

“Young adults who sleep poorly or who do not get enough sleep are at risk for problems such as difficulties with focused attention and memory, depressed moods, problems with peer and adult relationships, as well as injuries and accidents,” said Johnston. “A major reason students do not get enough sleep is for extra study time, but the more sleep you get, the more efficient your study time will be.”

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among 74,571 adult respondents in 12 states, about 35 percent reported getting less than seven hours of sleep on average during a 24-hour period, 48 percent reported snoring, and about 38 percent reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least one day in the preceding 30 days.

But there is a big difference between the annoyance of regular “snoring” and a condition called “sleep apnea.” Simple snoring is a minimal disruption of airflow; it annoys other people in the bedroom but is not a serious health risk. There are a variety of over-the-counter methods to cease snoring, including nose strips, aromatherapy, and anti-snore pillows.

Johnston said that when a person sleeps on his or her back, the jaw tends to be more relaxed and collapse back more into the throat, making breathing even harder. But if a person sleeps on his or her side, the jaw does not collapse quite as much as when he or she is on his or her back, allowing more airflow.

Currently, there are even “anti-snore t-shirts” on the market. Pockets are sewn onto the back of a t-shirt, and the snorer is actually supposed to place tennis balls in these pockets so that they will have an uncomfortable awakening if they try to flip on their back.

In our case, I discovered that having my boyfriend sleep on his side is the best solution for him. Breathing strips did absolutely nothing for him, but when he started sleeping on his side, the snoring went away.

A couple of months after my boyfriend solved his snoring problem, my roommate got her own boyfriend, who began to sleep over every other night. Let’s just say this guy can give my boyfriend a run for his money in the snoring department. I discovered that when it’s not your boyfriend who’s at fault, the annoyance of snoring is a million times worse.

I immediately informed him that he should sleep on his side. That was fine—when it worked. Unfortunately, my roommate’s boyfriend has a tendency to fall asleep on his side and then immediately turn over onto his back and start snoring yet again. Many a night passed where I lay awake, launching pillows, books, stuffed animals, and any object within reach at his face, but to no avail. The problem only got worse on the weekends, because after a night of heavy drinking, his snoring was twice as loud and he cared twice as less. Maybe I should buy him one of those tennis ball shirts…

Ironically, my picky, light-sleeping roommate wasn’t bothered a bit.

I began to get very angry at night. I became snappy at my roommate and her boyfriend, and tried to avoid them as much as possible. Now, I’ve just gotten into the habit of sleeping on the couch every time he stays over just to avoid raising my temper. For me, this one problem of snoring has greatly affected the relationship between my roommate and me, even though we used to be close friends.

On the other hand, sleep apnea is much more dangerous compared to regular snoring. With sleep apnea, a person’s throat is so badly blocked that they are actually being deprived of oxygen, and often stop breathing during the night. This happens because not enough air flows into the lungs through the mouth and nose when a person tries to breathe. Pauses in breathing can last 10-20 seconds and occur 20-30 times an hour. To experience this feeling for yourself, try holding your breath for 20 seconds, then imagine doing this at least 20 times during your sleep, with your heart reacting to an adrenaline wake-up jolt several times throughout the night.

“The body goes into emergency mode and the body gives you a burst of adrenaline to tell you to wake up,” said Johnston. “When you stop breathing, it’s a big strain on your heart, so people with cardiac problems should address [this condition] right away.”

According to “Snoring and How it Relates to Sleep Apnea” by Dr. Mark T. Weiser, additional problems resulting from sleep apnea include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke, impotence, accidents, daytime sleepiness, and many others. There are also various predictors of sleep apnea, including a large neck, overbite, decreased sex drive, poor concentration or memory, increased cholesterol, depression, and hypertension.

Many people do not realize that they have sleep apnea. According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, an estimated 18 million people have sleep apnea, but 80-90 percent of those people remain untreated.

While simple snoring can be treated with over-the-counter solutions, those with sleep apnea have only three options to revert to: CPAPs, surgery, or an oral appliance. A CPAP looks like a mask that a person wears over their nose that forces moist air into the nostrils, whereas an oral appliance looks vaguely like a retainer and sits solely inside the mouth, moving the jaw forward.

Like with simple snoring, several sufferers of sleep apnea find that the condition affects their relationships negatively.

Johnson spoke of an older male who had sleep apnea and chose to use a CPAP. But this man met a woman he wanted to travel with and he didn’t want her to know about his condition. So, he opted to buy one of the oral appliances to hide his condition from his partner.

He isn’t the only one negatively affected either. Snoring and sleep apnea can even endanger the lives of partners of those with the conditions.

“I have one gentleman who, after three years of marriage, [he and his wife] had to get separate bedrooms because the snoring was disturbing his wife’s sleep so much that she actually got into a car accident,” said Magdalena Sunshine Serrano, M.S.W., a clinical social worker at American Indian Health & Services.

“She wasn’t sleeping deeply, she was a commuter, and she got in a car accident; she fell asleep at the wheel.”

Serrano recommended that the couple adopt “pre-bed” rituals to help their situation.

“If they go for walks before bed, it helps him with his weight loss, and it helps her to get out that energy and help her relax,” she said.

Johnson also recommended that weight loss can be helpful to reverse snoring and that sleep hygiene, including not drinking alcohol before bed (it relaxes the throat even more than usual), making sure the television is off, and creating a calming environment, can aid as well.

Snoring can cause angry, sleepless nights and ruin relationships. Even worse, sleep apnea can do all of the above and endanger lives. For the sake of relationships and overall health, it is important to understand sleeping behavior and address a problem involving sleep apnea or snoring by finding solutions that feel comfortable.

If you are worried that you might have sleep apnea, contact your student medical center, doctor, or even log onto www.santabarbarasleepdentist.com for more information.

Currently there are "26 comments" on this Article:

  1. Nick Ware says:

    Interesting. I would encourage anyone who is trying to sleep better to check out these results on how to sleep better:
    http://www.thegeniusofflexibility.com/resistance-stretching/effect-on-sleep.html

  2. snoring says:

    I hope anyone reading this article with sleep apnea gets something from this article. My husband had sleep apnea, so I can relate to the article. The best thing he ever did was have the sleep apnea operation. He still snores a little bit, but at least when I go to bed now I know that I will be getting a goodnights sleep. I no longer have to worry if he is going to stop breathing in the middle of the night.

  3. RaZZZ says:

    I have sleep apnea and my girlfriend definitely suffers the most from it. But there are numerous thing we can do to lessen the intensity of the snoring or eliminate it all together. First don’t smoke or drink. And if you do go out for some drinks one night, be courteous and plan to sleep on the couch that night. Also keeping a healthy diet makes a a big difference to everyones quality of sleep. Most snorer have a soft palette but there are various throat experiences that make your muscle stronger and prevent snoring, like singing. But any exercise will be good for you and will help eliminate snoring because your body over all becomes stronger. For some tips on what is OK before bed you can download the ebook, Get To Sleep Now! http://instantlyfallasleep.com Its got loads of information on what to avoid and what will help.

  4. There are various grades of these “boil and bite” devices. Even the cheapest one is going to be better than this product, but there are some out there that are superb. I ended up buying the Zquiet Mouthpiece. It costs about 3 times as much as this device. And after using it, it is worth every penny of it – to me. You may not want or need to pay that much, and you certainly don’t have to.

  5. Irritated says:

    My boyfriend snores and I often contemplate murder while he is sleeping. Just kidding. But, for real I can’t take it. He can’t hold me @ nite, he has to sleep the other direction, and I don’t get any sleep. What type of operations can he get? I’m ready to rip his throat out myself. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Snoring can be decreased by preventing the airways from collapsing using a jaw strap

  7. Very interesting, I’ll follow the advice to see if it’s worth, thank you very much and best regards

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  9. Schlafhilfe says:

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  10. MarshaEvans says:

    I’m honestly at my wits end. My boyfriend’s snoring is completely unbearable and he refuses to see a doctor. He’s not overweight and it’s gotten worse over the last 6 months. I’ve tried buying different types of pillows, getting him to sleep on his side, trying to fall asleep first – nothing works. It’s killing our relationship and I wake up every day on the couch.

    I always thought it wasn’t a big deal when others would talk about snoring. It’s very much a big deal and one that leaves me irritated and sleep deprived every single day.

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  15. Irritated says:

    I wish I had seen this article sooner. My boyfriend just left the house to his moms, yet in his mind his apnea should not affect me at all. I am suffering, less because of the snoring and sleep apnea and more because of his incompassionate views. I and other of my family members have told him to see Dr. Whooley over 1 year ago. He always pushed it aside, claiming to be too busy, and I am beginning to baby this situation less and less. In the past month, I tried purchasing new pillows, new sheets. For months, the thermostat has been adjusted with the complaint to others inside the home. Now, most recently we are moving to other bedrooms( with softer beds, mines too hard he says!) He is very inconsiderate when it comes to my comfort. He does not apologize or accept responsibility towards my irritability.

    I need to mention, there are 3 components to his sleep apnea. One is snoring, and that can be tolerable as long as there is no movement. Another is drooling. That can mean up to 4-8 ounces of drool on a pillowcase, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be his! Eww!! I have rolled over to drool on my arms, face and hands. The absolute worse symptom of his apnea is movement. It will mean taking 3/4 of the bed, and an uncontrollable rocking( he sleeps up on one elbow elevated. This sight alone, is very disturbing and distracting at bedtime or anytime during one’s sleep, more mine than his. Consciously, while he is awake I discuss this issue, but I seem to not hear any thoughts on the problem, not even I’m sorry for not listening long ago, or I’m sorry I feel asleep during sex!

    He is overweight and that may be because of the sleep apnea. The sleep apnea has changed for the worse at the same rate as his weight gain in the last 18 months. As of now, he has began to sleep walk and mentioned sleeping 1 hour last night. He is uncompassionate and if his upcoming sleep study and doctors visit can help improve his sleep apnea, there may be hope for us. This sleep apnea can really make problems surface in a relationship if left untreated for a great extended period of time.

  16. Wake Up Tired All the Time says:

    My husband also suffers from sleep apnea. Hes over weight and even on his side he snores. He also keeps movies hes seen many times playing in the backgroung cause he says “it helps him sleep better.” He also snacks thruout the day and night. And he sleeps before I go to leep. He does keep me up sometimes. If I sleep before him I can get a good nights sleep in ad dont feel tired or even sleep in until ten. He gets up to make sure the kids get to school and lets me sleep in. Sometimes he’ll crawl back into bed cause he’s not getting his sleep either. Tossing and turning does no good. He even has a CPAP and he used it a few times and he won ue it anymore caue he doesnt like it. So I guess hed rather resort to snoring all the time and killing himself. Otherwise we can do anything else since he hs no job and Im not working either.

  17. So did the roommate’s boyfriend have Sleep Apnea? I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea in college and what a difference it made-once I started using the CPAP machine. Thanks for sharing your story and some great information about sleep apena.

  18. tom says:

    i suffer real bad with snoring to a point now for the past 7 years where i never get a proper sleep . i attended the hospital for the condition .after months and months of tests thay finaly put me to sleep and a camera was inserted up my nose ..to the docters suprise the snoring was cumming from my voice box ,i sead yes how can we fix it and he sead he couldent there was nothing he could do for me , i have just got to live if you can call never being able to get a good nights sleep .. always waking up more tyerd than i went to sleep .. its horendus ,i was wondering if there are more people in my situation ,and if so what do you do to get a desent sleep it been 7 years now for me and the depreshon this has inflicted on me is beyond a joke now .eny one with eny ideas ????

  19. Don says:

    im in a situation where my snoring is killing my relationship also, and i feel my gf is not sensitive about it, it kills me with guilt to know she no longer can spend the night with me, but at the same time ive tried most things on the market including specifically designed earplug for her which she does not even use, and i have woke up to her hitting and cursing me like i am deliberately doing it. im so depressed and unhappy, so i went to the surgeon and got my overlarge tonsils removed which has opened my airways significantly. it was ironic that she left me days after i got out while not even healed. but it goes to show that compassion and empathy need to go both ways with this sort of situation, nobody that snores likes making others uncomfortable and it really gets you down when people especially your partner is cruel and you are doing everything possible to help.

    great article thanks for the read :)

  20. Manfred Pohlenz says:

    Wow….Where does one start. All these sad stories yet mine is no different. 25 years of marriage, half of them in separate bedrooms. CPAP machines, jaw splints and nasal bandages to open the nasal passages and STILL no relief. Yes I’m over weight but my entire family snores, even the skinniest ones. All I want to hear (to make me comfortable with sleeping alone for the rest of my life) is that she understands that I am trying. That she understands that I take her sleep seriously and would never want her to suffer…but that it’s no easy thing trying to sleep with a hurricane up your nose or that paying for two bedrooms when normal people only need one is EMBARRASSING and humiliating. Oh well, thank heavens for blogs like this one. Makes one feel not quite so alone…..

  21. sleepyandfedup says:

    Snoring! How bad can it get, i’m sat downstairs now at 3:28am, while my inconsiderate PIG of a husband is snoring in bed. His snoring sounds like heavy furniture being constantly moved/dragged and pushed across a wooden floor.
    It is so distressing, tiring and a complete nightmare for me i actually hope it kills him like its killed our marriage.
    He drinks wine every evening, too inconsiderate to stop even though he knows it dosn’t help. OH! its stopped, should i make a dash for the bed in a bid to get at least some sleep and HOPE he may have stopped breathing for good. Likely chance as soon as i hit the pillow it will be full on again. I’m not counting sheep i’m counting days until he stops breathing for good.

  22. Can't sleepers says:

    I haven’t slept a night since I met my boyfriend 1year ago going on 2 years what can I do he gets mad BC he knows I’m fed up with his snoring I’m afraid I’ll will half to leave him to get a good nights sleep BC of the snoring nothing works I tried everything possible sleeping on his side it gets worse just don’t know !

  23. chris says:

    My girlfriend snores all the time but its more of a moaning snore from her voice box. I always tell people who stay over Its not what it sounds like lol. I don’t know what to do. She doesnt do the normal snore at all. Its like a groaning sound. Can anyone help?

  24. Darl says:

    I know what you mean Chris. People say just deal with it. Sleep in separate rooms. I am not 70! I have tried everything with my Girl. Nose Strips, Nose gadgets, Nasal spray, Humidifier. Nothing, absolutely nothing works. She is a good person but the Grinding, Saw Blade snoring is unbearable. She even went to a Doctor. Cpap machine won’t help. She would need surgery on her throat. The smoking probably does not help either. Some of these remedies may help with your GF. Give it a try. For me…..I am really getting fed up. It is getting to be really too much and too irritating. Unfortunately, I am probably going to throw in the towel. Good luck to you. Hope you can make it work.

  25. What’s up, I log on to your blog regularly. Your story-telling
    style is awesome, keep it up!

  26. Anna says:

    Nasal strips are a great tool to stop the snoring. They improve the normal breathing and bring immediate relief. More info: http://www.nosestrips.net/

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