We’ve all seen the studies. Whether it’s caused by stress at the office, bad sleep posture or an uncomfortable mattress, lack of sleep poses a real problem to your health and quality of life. There are plenty of expert tips out there to help combat common sleep challenges, but what if the problem behind your limited snooze-time isn’t a thing, but a person? The not-so-silent struggle between many couples is snoring. According to psychologist and nutrition expert Johnny Bowden, it can cause issues both for your personal health and your relationship. What does it mean for you and your bae if one of you is a habitual snorer? We talked to Dr. Bowden to find out.
“When you sleep, the muscles in your throat relax, and sometimes the tissues in the throat relax so much that they vibrate when you breathe — and boom! You’re snoring!” he says. “It can lead to problems with your sleep and with your sex life, both of which are very important components of a happy and healthy life.”
THE SNORING STRUGGLE IS REAL
It’s definitely not sexy, but snoring may be more common than you think. According to Dr. Bowden, 30 to 40 percent of adults would be a conservative estimate of chronic snorers. This means that over one-third of us may wind up dealing with snoring-related challenges in our relationships at some point. Dr. Bowden first realized snoring’s impact on love and romance when he worked as a personal trainer in the early years of his career in the health field.
“People would talk to me about everything in their lives,” he says. “It always led to their relationships, their kids, their frustrations… and believe me, I heard complaints about snoring on a fairly regular basis.”
Just like other sleep problems that cause tension in relationships, snoring’s primary effect on the dynamic between you and your S.O. is its tendency to keep one or both partners from getting enough rest.
“Think about the times when you and your significant other are testing each other’s last nerve,” Dr. Bowden says. “I’ll bet it’s not on days when there’s hardly any stress and everyone’s well-rested. If one partner has crummy sleep, it can have a terrible effect on the dynamics between them, and the effect can last for days.”
Unlike other relationship-testing sleep problems, snoring has one characteristic that makes it unique to couples. “Sadly, snoring isn’t very romantic,” Dr. Bowden says. “So there’s that.” Yep, so not sexy.
SO, HOW CAN YOU FIX SNORING ISSUES?
If snoring has driven a wedge between you and your S.O. and you’re feeling the tension (along with a heavy dose of exhaustion), keep reading for a few tips on how to approach and improve the situation.
1. Open the conversation. Your partner may be reluctant to believe that they snore, so broach the issue with sympathy and a sense of humor. Be gentle, and make sure it doesn’t sound like you’re making an accusation. If your S.O. is particularly data-driven, ask if they would be willing to let you record their snoring. Honesty will help get you both on the same page and allow you to move forward with a solution.
2. Try a muting device. Dr. Bowden recommends the over-the-counter product MUTE. “It’s a great first step,” he says. “It’s a cool little adjustable device you wear that opens up the nasal passages like crazy.” Adhesive nasal strips may also help alleviate the problem.
3. Promote good health. According to Dr. Bowden, snoring is often made worse by excessive smoking and drinking, as well as extreme stress and allergies. If you and your S.O. are practicing a healthy lifestyle and staying on top of external factors that might intensify stress and allergies, you may be able to improve the snoring issue naturally.
4. Practice good sleep habits. Although you may have little control over your partner’s snoring, you can make other choices to ensure a restful night. Dr. Bowden suggests making your bedtime 30 minutes earlier every night until you’re up to your ideal number of hours of sleep. Also consider turning in before your S.O. If you’re asleep before they come to bed, their snores may be less likely to keep you awake. Other expert tips to create the ideal environment for sleeping? Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool, and limit screens as you’re falling asleep.
5. Keep a sense of humor. Maintaining lightness in the conversations between you and your bae about snoring will help keep tensions from running too high. The last thing you need — especially if you aren’t sleeping enough — is to add additional stress.
6. If all else fails, get an expert opinion. “If the problem persists, then I would recommend seeing a health professional,” Dr. Bowden says. “It won’t go away by itself and what you don’t want is for snoring to become a ‘thing’ — an issue, a bone of contention, an annoyance that builds up into resentment and, inevitably, a romance killer.”
How do you handle snoring in your relationship? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)