Sleep apnea, a condition in which the throat muscles relax during sleep, blocking the airways and causing a person to intermittently stop breathing, is a unique case of unrestful sleep. This is because it doesn’t just affect the sufferer—who often feels tired even after a full night’s sleep—but also his or her partner. The partner of someone with sleep apnea must endure the loud rumbling rhythms of snoring all night long, in some cases every night of the week. The condition can also influence the relationship itself in a host of complicated ways.
Repressed or Pent-Up Frustration
People with sleep apnea don’t just snore. They breathe heavily, loudly gasp for air, and often wake up throughout the night. Having to endure this auditory roller coaster every single evening is enough to get on anyone’s nerves. Partners of individuals suffering from sleep apnea may feel frustrated that their significant other’s condition is negatively affecting their own sleep and general well-being.
Sleep apnea robs sufferers and their partners of more than just sleep, though. Recent research has shown that it is strongly correlated with sexual and erectile dysfunction. A 2009 study found that of the 401 men it surveyed that had sleep apnea, fully 70 percent also experienced erectile dysfunction. Another paper, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, looked at the sexual functioning of middle-aged women who had sleep apnea and those who didn’t. The researchers found that women with the condition reported much higher levels of sexual dysfunction. That kind of damaged or diminished intimacy can, in turn, put profound strains on the rest of the relationship.
People who don’t get restful sleep because of sleep apnea are often fatigued, foggy, and unfocused during the day. This can leave them less than fully present with their significant others, negatively impacting dialogue and lines of communication. If there’s one feature of relationships that almost everyone agrees is absolutely vital to enduring over the long haul, it’s consistent communication. A person whose mind and body is riddled by sleep apnea’s toxic effects will struggle to consistently achieve that.
Our office can help you overcome sleep apnea and all of its negative effects. Schedule an appointment today to get started.