How Do Sleep Disorders Affect Relationships?
How many people out there can relate to the following scenario – you are woken up by your spouse in the middle of the night due to snoring. Chances are, this is either happening to you, or someone you know. Unfortunately, the person doing the snoring isn’t always willing to get the help they need, and don’t think that snoring is a real problem that can affect their health (or marriage). If these awakenings become chronic, then the person losing sleep will most likely be tired or fatigued, their mood affected, and also their work performance harmed. It is only natural that they may blame their bed partner for this, and in response, that person will feel attacked emotionally. Lack of sleep affects relationships, and many people do not realize the extent of this issue.
Over time, sleep deprivation leads to:
- Resentment – unable to get a good night’s sleep
- Blame – the sleepless spouse blames things on the one getting the sleep
- Mood Change – depression, anxiety, and unable to process emotions properly
- Lack of Intimacy – couples stop sleeping together
- Impaired Communication – sleeping separately creates distance
Aside from feeling lousy the next day, you may also be vulnerable to stress-related inflammation and chronic illnesses. Inflammation is associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and arthritis, among other things. Additionally, not getting enough quality sleep leads couples to become hostile towards each other. Because their brains have not rested, they are unable to resolve conflict and process emotions in a calm manner. All rational thought goes out the window and arguments occur more frequently.
The CDC reports that 35% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep per night. If both partners get less than 7 hours of sleep, there is an even higher chance that they will be argumentative with each other and use unhealthy conflict-resolution tactics.
One person’s restlessness impacts the other person’s quality of sleep. For example, women who live with a spouse who snores are 3 times more likely to suffer from insomnia than women who live with non-snorers. Along with insomnia comes headaches, migraines, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, depression, TMD or grinding teeth. Recent studies suggest that sleep problems (including OSA, SDB and insomnia) in one or both partners contribute to marital problems.
According to the 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll, one-quarter to one-third of married or cohabitating adults report that their intimate relationships are adversely affected by their own or their spouse’s excessive sleepiness or sleep problems. This is why some married couples choose to start sleeping in separate bedrooms. In fact, this arrangement seems to be accepted as the norm nowadays.
Marital problems and sleep problems seem to coincide, especially during significant life transitions (childbirth, new job, moving, or an illness). In a healthy relationship, the partner serves as a positive influence and stress-buffer, allowing for encouragement and healthy sleep patterns. By contrast, unhealthy relationships have a negative impact on sleep, causing emotional and psychological arousal, and poor health habits.
Additionally, spouses exert influence on their partner’s awareness of any sleep disorders, and adherence to a treatment plan. Bed partners play a huge role in the diagnosis and treatment of OSA – the “disease of listeners”. They must provide their input so that their spouse receives the best possible treatment for their condition.
Do you wake up feeling fully refreshed and full of energy with a good level of concentration? If you don’t, you might have an undiagnosed sleep disorder that could be extremely dangerous. At Michigan Head & Neck Institute, we offer treatment exclusively for Obstructive Sleep Apnea that consists of creating a custom-fit oral appliance (mouthpiece) which is comfortable and can be adjusted to meet the requirements of each patient. There are over 100 different types of oral appliances that are made for OSA, and Dr. Klein works with each patient to provide the best options for their specific treatment. Please contact our office at (586) 573-0438 for more information, or visit our website at www.michiganheadandneck.com.
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