Do sleep apnea symptoms, like snoring, keep you and your partner awake at night? Have you resorted to sleeping separately to avoid sleep disruption? Untreated sleep apnea can impact every area of your life, including the health of your relationship with your spouse or partner.
What Is a “Sleep Divorce”?
The phrase “sleep divorce” describes when spouses or partners sleep in separate bedrooms. The top reason couples stop sharing a bedroom is snoring, and sleep apnea is a leading cause of snoring.
The noise of snoring or the CPAP machine can disturb the sleep of the person sharing a bed with a sleep apnea patient. Some couples find the benefits of restful sleep outweigh the drawbacks of sleeping separately. However, a sleep divorce can also lead to disadvantages
The Advantages of Sleeping Separately
It may be challenging to get enough sleep if you share a room with someone who snores loudly. You may even wake up feeling tired, which negatively affects your work performance, mood and health. Choosing to sleep in separate rooms offers a solution for improved slumber.
When you sleep in different bedrooms, you avoid waking up in the middle of the night due to your partner’s symptoms. Instead, you can wake up feeling rested and ready to take on the day. Better sleep strengthens the immune system and may help reduce stress levels. Additionally, your partner may benefit because they no longer have the stress of disrupting your sleep.
The Disadvantages of Sleeping Separately
Although it may seem like an easy fix, separating yourself from your partner can cause other issues. For couples with children, bedtime may offer the only time alone together to connect or talk. Many couples enjoy the bonding experience of sleeping in the same bed. The separation can feel like an emotional loss. Also, separate sleep can negatively impact your sex life.
If you choose to sleep separately, talk about the issues that may arise from the separation. Set expectations and seek ways to connect outside of bedtime.
Alternative Options for Improved Sleep
Instead of settling for separate bedrooms, address the real elephant in the room, sleep apnea. Patients have several treatment options to resolve or improve sleep apnea symptoms.
Doctors most commonly recommend the use of a CPAP machine. The machine works by forcing the airway to open with constant airflow through a tube covering the nose. While these machines improve sleep apnea, some people find them uncomfortable and loud.
Oral appliances also offer a solution to treat sleep apnea. Mandibular devices shift the jaw forward, which can relieve snoring and other symptoms of mild cases of sleep apnea. Many patients successfully manage their sleep apnea symptoms without the bulk or noise of the CPAP.
Finally, research shows that weight loss dramatically reduces sleep apnea symptoms. Often patients start experiencing snoring when they gain weight. The extra weight can thicken the neck, tongue and jaw areas making breathing more difficult during sleep. While weight loss isn’t easy, it can improve your health and sleep.
Stay Connected and Sleep Well
If you don’t want to sleep separately from your partner or spouse, you have options to address the undesirable impact of sleep apnea. Work with a sleep specialist for a proper diagnosis. Then explore your treatment options. Invest in your relationship and your health!
Marianna Kovitch, D.M.D., is a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (DABDSM). Dr. Kovitch received her Doctor of Dental Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia after earning her Bachelor of Science with honors in chemistry as well as recognition in research publications for her work in biochemistry from Georgia State University. Dr. Kovitch has been an active board member of the Academy of General Dentistry since 2013 and has been a contributor to the development of dentistry excellence in Georgia.
Marianna Kovitch, D.M.D., DABDSM • Atlanta Smiles • www.goodnightsleepga.com • 404.262.7733