Sleep apnea impacts around 22 million Americans and remains widely undiagnosed, with up to 80 percent of cases unidentified. Sleep apnea can disrupt rest, mood, and health, affecting not just the person experiencing it but also their partner.
Understanding your partner’s sleep apnea is not only about acknowledging a condition; it’s about recognizing its profound impact on your and your partner’s lives. In this article, we discuss what sleep apnea is, how to recognize signs of sleep apnea, and how you can support your partner who has sleep apnea.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition where moments of halted breathing or shallow breaths occur while sleeping. These breaks in breathing can happen from brief pauses to longer intervals, throwing off the body’s natural sleep rhythm and leading to daytime exhaustion, mood swings, and reduced alertness.
There are two main variations of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the more common type of sleep apnea. It arises when throat muscles relax, obstructing the air passage.
- Central Sleep Apnea is diagnosed less frequently and occurs due to communication issues between the brain and the breathing-controlling muscles, causing irregular breathing patterns during sleep.
Recognizing Signs of Sleep Apnea
Recognizing signs of sleep apnea in your partner can help their well-being and catch any serious health issues that could be causing sleep apnea. Your partner may not even be aware of their sleep apnea symptoms, so it is beneficial if you can see these signs.
- Loud and Persistent Snoring — Especially if it is accompanied by pauses in breathing or gasping sounds during sleep.
- Frequently Awakening — Individuals with sleep apnea might abruptly wake up multiple times throughout the night.
- Daytime Fatigue — Experiencing excessive sleepiness during the day, regardless of the amount of time spent in bed.
- Morning Headaches — Waking up with headaches, possibly caused by the disruptive sleep.
- Irritability and Difficulties Concentrating — Mood swings, irritability, and trouble focusing during the day may indicate sleep disruption caused by sleep apnea.
- Frequent Nighttime Bathroom Use — Needing to urinate frequently during the night might also be a sign of sleep apnea disrupting sleep.
If you notice these symptoms happen regularly or are persistent issues, it’s advisable to seek out medical evaluation. A sleep study can determine whether sleep apnea or another sleep disorder may be the cause.
Supporting Your Partner With Sleep Apnea
If you think your partner may have sleep apnea but hasn’t gotten a proper diagnosis, the first thing they should do is see a doctor. Offer to join your partner during their appointment for moral support.
Having another person in the room can help when remembering to ask important questions and understanding the doctor’s instructions. Being present allows you to learn more about sleep apnea treatment, which in turn helps you better support your loved one.
The most common treatment option for sleep apnea is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. A CPAP machine ensures a steady airflow to prevent breathing pauses during sleep. While it does help to get uninterrupted sleep, adjusting to the machine can take some time.
Alternative Sleeping Arrangements
The frequent waking up and movement of someone with sleep apnea can lead to disturbances throughout the night, impacting their partner’s rest. If noise is an issue, using earplugs during sleep can be an effective solution, as earplugs are usually affordable and can help reduce disruptive noise.
If getting to sleep remains a problem, consider trying temporary sleeping arrangements. Explain that this change is short-term and that things will return to normal soon. If your partner is still adjusting to CPAP therapy, getting used to the CPAP machine may take a few weeks. Once they are comfortable using their CPAP machine, you can return to your usual sleeping area and get better, uninterrupted sleep.
Encourage Healthier Habits
Supporting a partner with sleep apnea involves creating a better sleep schedule and fostering healthier habits together. Small lifestyle changes can make a significant impact.
Together, you can get regular exercise, cook more balanced meals, and try to maintain a healthier body weight, as excess weight can contribute to the severity of sleep apnea. Avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime can also help improve sleep quality because of the muscle relaxation these cause in the back of the throat.
Let DreamZz Sleep Center Help You and Your Partner Get Better Sleep
Through mutual support and understanding, you can face the challenges of sleep apnea together and lead to a healthier, happier partnership where restful nights can be a reality. Finding a trusted sleep center can significantly impact all the challenges of managing sleep apnea.
At DreamZz Sleep Center, we strive to get you (and your partner!) back to a healthy, good night of sleep. For more personalized guidance on CPAP use or any sleep-related concerns, consult with our experienced team. We start treatment as soon as possible, giving a consultation and sleep study within one or two weeks of your initial inquiry.
Contact us today to book an appointment.