Maybe you’ve seen those bright pink earplugs in the medicine aisle at your local grocery store. They’re specifically marketed towards women whose bed partners snore.
It’s not a bad idea—in fact, statistically speaking, men are twice as likely to snore as women. However, by plugging up your ears and enabling his snoring, you might actually be endangering his life!
What is sleep apnea?
See, snoring is often caused by a condition known as sleep apnea. Taken from the Greek word “apnoia” which means “breathless,” sleep apnea occurs when someone stops breathing in the middle of the night. Their body, starved for air, will force the person to wake up so they can take a breath. This cycle of waking up and going back asleep occurs continuously throughout the night.
Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your partner’s throat relax, which causes the soft tissue they support to fall down and block or restrict the airway. It’s this obstructed airway that causes the loud snoring to emit from your partner’s mouth.
What does sleep apnea affect?
The result? Your partner may wake up in the morning feeling as if he got no sleep at all (because often he has not). Not only that, sleep apnea puts wear and tear on their heart, because there’s not enough oxygen intake. Depression, Type 2 diabetes and liver problems can also result from sleep apnea.
How can I treat sleep apnea?
Luckily, there is help! Your partner can use a device known as a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine. This machine forces air into nose, pushing past that collapsed soft tissue and delivering much-needed oxygen into your partner’s lungs. They’re not glamorous-looking, but CPAP machines can save your partner’s life and let you sleep better at night!
To find out for sure if your partner has sleep apnea, your doctor will order a sleep study performed on him. If the results come out positive, your doctor can then write a prescription for a CPAP machine.