Loud snoring isn’t just obnoxious, it could point to a serious medical condition. That was definitely the case with my boyfriend, who was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. Not only have his symptoms improved since receiving treatment but our relationship has too.
My boyfriend snored so loud that his whole apartment building knew when he slept.
This isn’t an exaggeration, and it was even worse when he drank. The neighbors would sarcastically ask him how he slept the night before and they nicknamed him “Sleeping Beauty.” The fire alarm couldn’t even wake him from his slumber. Seriously.
I’d begged him for years to see a doctor.
I bugged him about it so much partly because it was so bad that I couldn’t even sleep in the same room with him. He’d say he was going to make an appointment but never did. He also claimed he’d tried to stop his snoring using every method he could think of, from mouth guards to nose strips. Because nothing worked, he didn’t think a doctor would be able to do anything. What kind of logic is this? And why do men dread going to the doctor so much?
Finally, he caved and went to see a sleep specialist.
The doctor gave him a small machine to wear at home that monitored his sleep overnight. He was afraid he’d have to stay in the hospital and be hooked up to a million machines but that wasn’t the case. He ended up being diagnosed with sleep apnea, which is when breathing during sleep constantly stops and starts.
I wasn’t surprised by his sleep apnea diagnosis, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as it was.
The sleep test revealed he had 47 “events” per hour. An event occurs when you stop breathing in your sleep. Basically, your airway closes and your body wakes itself up briefly because your blood oxygen level drops. To put this number in perspective, normal sleepers have less than five events per hour, people with mild apnea have 5-15 events per hour, people with moderate apnea have 15-30 events per hour, and people with severe apnea have more than 30 events per hour. My partner having a whopping 47 was definitely considered severe. This scared me to death—was he going to die in his sleep?
Yes, you can die from sleep apnea.
This condition causes lots of serious health problems, some that can lead to death. High blood pressure and heart issues are common because of the strain that sleep apnea puts on the cardiovascular system. It affects liver function as well. Apnea can also cause metabolic imbalances like high cholesterol and high blood sugar, which leads to a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, since people with the condition don’t breathe properly during sleep, they can have problems during surgeries when they’re put under anesthesia. Sleep apnea isn’t always fatal, but deaths do occur. For instance, Carrie Fisher died in 2017 from complications due to sleep apnea.
The sleep doctor gave my boyfriend a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to wear at night to treat his apnea.
It works exactly as the name implies; it forces air into your throat so your airway doesn’t collapse. When my significant other started using it, his number of events immediately went way down and his snoring completely stopped. It was literally the best day of my life because I could actually sleep next to him and I didn’t have to worry about him dying in his sleep anymore.
It was absolutely the best thing that happened to our relationship.
Not only did this machine save his life, but it also improved our relationship because we could sleep together in the same bed. Not being able to sleep together was hard for me and I felt so much more connected to him when he was next to me. Science agrees with me—sleeping together offers many mental health benefits (and physical health benefits too). For example, cuddling close releases feel-good chemicals that make you happier and relieve your stress. So when my partner and I are physically closer, we’re more emotionally in tune with one another because we’re both in a better mood. It definitely made our bond stronger. Hallelujah!
If you suspect your partner has sleep apnea, you can look for some tell-tale signs.
Symptoms include loud snoring, although not everyone with sleep apnea snores; noticing your partner stops breathing at night; having a dry mouth or a sore throat in the morning; having trouble staying asleep; having difficulty staying awake during the day because you’re not getting proper rest at night; having a hard time paying attention; and being irritable.
There are also many factors that predispose you to sleep apnea.
You’re at a greater risk of having the condition if you’re older, you’re overweight, you have a small airway or large neck width, you’re male, you have a family history of sleep apnea, and if you smoke or drink. Living a healthier lifestyle may prevent apnea and will improve it if you already have it.
Going to a sleep doctor is not as scary as most people think.
Visiting a sleep doctor is not as intimidating as it seems, and not dying is worth some possible discomfort anyways. So if you’re worried that you or your significant other may be suffering from it, please go see a doctor. It’ll not only better your health or your partner’s health, but it’ll also do wonders for your relationship.
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