If your partner or spouse has sleep apnea and requires a CPAP machine, mouthpiece or other oral sleep appliance, staying positive and supportive throughout the process of testing, diagnosis and treatment will benefit both of you. Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that affects approximately 22 million Americans, but as many as 80 percent are undiagnosed. It occurs when your airway is blocked by soft tissue which causes your breathing to stop and start. These pauses in breathing will usually disrupt your sleep, waking you frequently throughout the night. The most common type of sleep apnea we see in our patients who come into our Santa Cruz, Los Gatos, San Jose, and San Ramon offices is called obstructive sleep apnea and it occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway.
Even if it’s your partner that is diagnosed with the disorder, you are likely suffering as well from lack of sleep. Supporting your partner through this difficult time can be challenging. But supporting him or her by following these tips will help both of you sleep easy.
Tip #1: Understand The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
It’s true, if your spouse snores loudly, he or she may be experiencing sleep apnea. But there are additional symptoms that are indicative of sleep apnea as well. Some of these symptoms occur during the night and others are symptoms that occur during the day. Besides persistent snoring at night, you may also notice pauses in breathing, as well as choking or gasping for air, sleeping restlessly, waking up with a sore or dry throat, and frequent visits to the bathroom. During the waking hours, sleep apnea symptoms include early morning headaches, excessive fatigue, poor concentration, depression or irritability, and sleepiness during routine activities. Knowing these symptoms will help you be more understanding of what your partner is going through.
Tip #2: Communicate Your Concerns
Often the patients who seek help from Spark Sleep Solutions do so because of the concerns of their partner. Either they’ve watched you stop breathing, which can be scary, or their own sleep is disrupted due to snoring. If left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious health risks including high blood pressure, heart disease/heart attack, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, irregular heartbeat, and driving and work-related accidents. The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research has estimated that obstructive sleep apnea may cause 38,000 cardiovascular deaths each year. It’s important, especially during this initial stage, that you communicate openly and honestly with your spouse about your concerns. It’s best to talk about your sleep issues during a time when neither of you is upset or sleep-deprived — not in the middle of the night when you are awakened from sleep. Discuss the possible solutions to your concerns and encourage your spouse to consult professional medical help. Attend medical appointments with your partner to learn more about the treatment and make sure all of your questions are answered.
Tip #3: Be Patient With Each Other
Sleep apnea can take a toll on both partners, so it is important to be patient as you work through both the symptoms and potential treatments. Don’t blame your partner for your lack of sleep or his or her symptoms that may be interfering with your normal daily lives. Your partner isn’t trying to keep you up all night or fall asleep during the day. They have a medical condition and it’s important that they receive the proper diagnosis and treatment plan from sleep specialists such as our team at Spark Sleep Solutions. As treatments are recommended and tried, it’s important that you are supportive and patient as your partner gets used to sleeping with a CPAP mask, sleep apnea mouthpiece or other oral sleep appliance. There will likely be some time for adjustments, but In the end, successful treatment will benefit you both.
Tip #4: Encourage Healthy Habits
Another way to support your partner with sleep apnea is to motivate them to adopt and maintain healthy life habits. Positive lifestyle practices such as not smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine intake, and maintaining a healthy weight can potentially reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. You can lead the way by practicing these healthy habits as well. Also, spend some time evaluating your sleeping conditions. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil and relaxing place to sleep for you and your partner. Check the lighting, turn off electronics a few hours before bedtime, and make sure the temperature is set correctly for optimum sleep.
Consider Alternative Treatments for Sleep Apnea
One of the most common treatments for sleep apnea is the CPAP machine. The CPAP machine works by pushing a steady stream of air into the nose through a mask that the user wears all night. Unfortunately, many sleep apnea patients find they cannot tolerate wearing the mask while they sleep. For these patients, Spark Sleep Solutions offers alternatives to CPAP. Comparing the CPAP and these oral appliances such as a sleep apnea mouthpiece like our Compliance Recorder Device shows that both can accomplish the same results by giving you a restful night’s sleep but through different methods. Work with a sleep specialist and your partner to determine the best treatment both for resolving the problem and for improving your lifestyle.
Find Your Sleep Apnea Solutions At Spark Sleep Solutions
At Spark Sleep Solutions, we’ve worked with hundreds of patients to treat sleep apnea disorders in a way that works for both the person with the disorder and their partner. Having a partner with sleep apnea isn’t always easy. However, it is possible to support your partner while honoring your own needs. If you’re ready to get the help you need for you both to get a restful night’s sleep, schedule an appointment with our sleep experts online or by calling 408.490.0182. We look forward to solving your sleep challenges very soon and protecting the quality of your partnership!