Sleep apnea is a common but serious sleep disorder where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. While individuals with sleep apnea likely experience disruptive sleep, so do many of their partners. Whether it’s due to excessive snoring, frequent tossing and turning or daytime sleepiness, you may not be getting the best sleep if your partner has sleep apnea.
There are a few signs to look out for, and a number of sleep apnea treatment options for you and your partner.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The most telling sign of sleep apnea is loud and chronic snoring. People with sleep apnea tend to snore loudly, and their snoring is interrupted by gasps or snorts as their airway is blocked. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Waking up choking or gasping for air
- Restless sleep
- Morning headaches
- Daytime sleepiness, fatigue and lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
People with sleep apnea often don’t realize they wake up many times during the night. The lapses in breathing can last 10–30 seconds each time. This prevents the person from reaching the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Snoring and blocked airways can cause oxygen deprivation, which can have lingering effects on individuals with sleep apnea.
A bed partner is often the first to notice the signs of sleep apnea. If your partner snores loudly and gasps or chokes during sleep, they likely have sleep apnea. Pay attention to their sleep quality overnights and how tired they are during the day. Sleep apnea severely impacts daily life and is associated with many health complications.
How to Diagnose Sleep Apnea
If you suspect your partner has sleep apnea, the first step is to have them evaluated by a sleep specialist at a local sleep clinic. A sleep study, also called a polysomnogram, is usually done to confirm the diagnosis. If you don’t want to visit a clinic, you can try a home sleep study to stay in the comfort of your own bed while still receiving the same top results.
During a sleep study, sensors are attached to the body to monitor brain activity, heart rate, breathing and oxygen levels during sleep. This helps identify any respiratory disturbances and determine the severity of the sleep apnea. If you choose to do a home sleep study, you’ll receive a kit in the mail or through your local sleep clinic with instructions. A home sleep study typically takes a few days to gather enough data and to send it back to the clinic. Based on the sleep study results, clinicians can help you and your partner find sleep apnea treatment options.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
The most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). This involves wearing a mask connected to a CPAP machine while sleeping. The CPAP machine gently blows air into the throat to keep the airway open, preventing pauses in breathing.
It may take some time to adjust to sleeping with a CPAP machine. However, it is very effective at improving sleep quality and eliminating symptoms of sleep apnea. Other treatment options include dental devices that reposition the jaw to open up the airway. For mild cases, sleeping on your side, focusing on diet and exercise and avoiding alcohol before bed may help.
Talk to your partner and your doctor about what sleep apnea treatment options may be best for them and their lifestyle.
Help Your Partner (and Yourself!) Get Better Rest
Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and strokes. It’s important for your partner to get treatment if they have sleep apnea to improve their health and quality of life — and it will help you get a full night’s rest as well. With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, their sleep apnea can be successfully managed.
The team at Whitney Sleep Center can help conduct sleep studies, or send a home sleep study to you and your partner to help diagnose sleep apnea and make a treatment plan. Our sleep clinics in Plymouth and Burnsville are a central stop for patients to gain sleep insights and find solutions and treatment options that are right for them. Visit us or get in touch today to learn how you and your partner can sleep through the night.