How come fairytales never get into the nitty gritties of what life ‘happily ever after’ ensues? Probably because the charming prince might possibly be one noisy snorer when he goes to sleep, and the lovely princess stubbornly refuses to go sleep in the adjoining guest room, because that’s not what romantic couples do!
Reality hits hard, and what is a fairytale romance during the day can be a horrific nightmare when you learn that your partner ‘breathes heavily’, to put it mildly. Well, you took your chances, and now you’re stuck ‘for better or for worse’. Still, how does one get one sleep when the person next to them is only slightly quieter than an elephant trumpeting in the mating season?
Snoring is not just a nuisance for the bedmate (or, in extreme cases, for your neighbour). A Danish study establishes that snoring at sound levels as loud as 91 dB is enough to potentially harm the hearing of the snorers’ partners. This particular study was carried out by the Danish Center for Sleep Medicine at the Glostrup Hospital, Copenhagen.
Snoring loudly could also signal a serious medical disorder called sleep apnea. The first issue to deal with when it comes to chronic snoring is whether this is a symptom of sleep apnea. Next you can figure out how to help your partner stop snoring.
• Firstly, discussion with your partner is essential. Of course no one snores willingly; it is as involuntary as the heart that beats. Of course they want you to sleep next to them – separate rooms are for couples with troubled relationships. And of course, they do not want to keep you up all night while they sleep soundly (literally,) and are willing to co-operate on a strategy to help them stop snoring.
• Well, once the air is cleared on that count, both of you can start rolling up your sleeves to get down to the actual task. Firstly, take a health check. Is your partner overweight? Do they constantly feel drowsy? Do they struggle to breathe while asleep? Do they have high blood pressure?
If so, consult a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders. These are all unmistakable symptoms of sleep apnea. Discuss the treatments for sleep apnea with a doctor that specializes in sleep-disorders. The treatment comprises of surgery, radio-frequency treatment as well as a sleeping mask that aids breathing.
• Another doctor that your partner can consult is their dentist. Ask the dentist about using an oral appliance designed to reduce snoring.
• Make your partner use a single low pillow. The nasal passage gets stretched and narrowed if the person sleeps on too many pillows. However, if the nasal passage is congested, placing books under the mattress so as to elevate the head can help.
• Ask your partner to try to sleep on their stomach, since snoring is less likely to occur in this position. Change does not happen overnight (and no puns intended). Perseverance is the key. They can also buy anti-snoring pillows designed to keep snorers on their side while asleep.
• Review their meds - sleeping pills, antihistamines and other medications increase snoring.
• It might be advisable for your partner to consult their doctor if you suspect that allergies and nasal congestion may be causing the problem. Make sure their allergy medication is antihistamine free.
• Tried everything? Now try an over-the-counter nasal strip. These strips can widen the nasal passages and decrease congestion, thus reducing snoring. Just be encouraging to your partner throughout while they meekly go through your experiments on him like a guinea pig!
• When bad turns to worse, it might be necessary to make your partner go through a lifestyle makeover. Help him to cross over to a healthy lifestyle. Snoring is exacerbated by extra weight, smoking, alcohol and drugs.
Either start early in life to deal with such issues, or you will later appreciate why they say, ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. Or, like Riya, a 48 year old working woman with a snoring husband, you’ll learn to just tune out.
She says, “Neel has not been such a loud snorer always in our marriage of 24 years. It got worse after a period of time. I used to be angry before, though gradually I have gotten used to it to such an extent that I hardly notice anymore. Though, we realize it might be sleep apnea, and have discussed about visiting our doctor about it.”
All of us cannot be like Riya, and snoring can thus be an issue of health as well of relationship. Helping your partner deal with it can get rid of his health issues, as well as your morning temper and dark circles!
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