When it comes to sleep, I’m not afraid to admit that it’s something I look forward to and enjoy immensely. There’s nothing like getting into your own bed and getting ready for a great night’s sleep. But then it happens- your sleep partner starts snoring. It’s not just a gentle faint snore, it’s the kind of snore that makes the whole house shake! Most may not even realize their partner’s snoring or they snore just as loud themselves. Some may pass this off as an irritating event, but you live with it. Others may have a hard time sleeping at night due to their partner’s snoring.

While we may pass this off, loud and frequent snoring is an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a chronic sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep that affects as many as 22 million Americans. If you or your partner are a frequent loud snorer, stop breathing throughout the night, experience restlessness at night or are excessively sleepy during the day you may want to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

If your bed partner decides to speak with a doctor it would be beneficial to track behaviors you have observed from them including details of the time it occurs and how often. Since they are asleep some questions the doctor asks may be difficult for them to answer.

Observable behaviors you may want to record include:

  • Snoring- the intensity and what makes it worse
  • Occasional loud snorting
  • Twisting or kicking legs
  • Choking
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Talking in sleep
  • Wetting bed
  • Getting out of bed when not awake

When breathing pauses in a person with OSA, they are usually moving out of a deep sleep into a light sleep which lessens sleep quality. OSA can also trigger the release of stress hormones, change how your body uses energy, and make you feel tired and sleepy during the day. There is also evidence that OSA leads to a greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, certain cancers and even sudden death.

There are several potential negative health effects of insufficient sleep, such as weight gain, memory loss, skin aging and more. Treating either condition can decrease these risks. Part of living a healthy lifestyle is getting quality sleep.

Even if the snorer may feel as though the condition is not disrupting their sleep, their bed partner may feel differently. For everyone who is getting nudged or elbowed from a frustrated bed partner or those whose sleep has been disrupted it’s important to know what your partner’s snoring means and a way you both can get back to a good night’s sleep.