Does your husband’s snoring keep you up at night? Do you often hear him gasping for breath throughout the night? Is he irritable and always tired? Is he reluctant to seek diagnosis and treatment? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, this article is for you. We’re here to lay out a step-by-step plan for you to help get your husband diagnosis and treatment of his snoring or sleep apnea symptoms. Following this plan will get you on the right track back to healthy sleep and a happy marriage!
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder, where a person’s breathing erratically stops and starts up again throughout the night.
There are two major types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common, and it affects nearly 3 million people in the U.S. each year. Obstructive sleep apnea can be characterized by loud snoring, gasping during sleep, and daytime fatigue. It occurs when the muscles and soft tissues in the back of the throat relax and sometimes collapse, causing a blockage in the airway. Because you cannot get enough air to breathe properly, the oxygen level in your blood decreases. Your brain senses this, and thus causes you to briefly wake up so that you can reopen your airways.
This process may repeat many times during the night, which are known as sleep hypopneas, and happen sometimes up to 30 times or more. This impairs your body’s ability to reach the full, restful, deep sleep it needs to function properly and healthily.
Here are a few of the most commonly observed symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Loud and disruptive snoring
- Observed episodes of gasping, choking, snorting, or cessation of breathing
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Nighttime sweating
- Headaches, particularly in the morning
- Waking up with dry mouth or sore throat
- Abrupt awakenings throughout the night that require catching of the breath
- Mood changes and increased irritability
- Difficulty focusing throughout the day
- Nocturia (waking up frequently to use the restroom)
Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
In addition to causing sleep deprivation, which has all kinds of nasty effects that impact your ability to function properly, sleep apnea can be fatal.
Sleep apnea is linked to many other serious health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Sleep apnea is also linked to the likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack, both of which are incredibly damaging to the body and can result in death.
Because sleep apnea literally prevents you from breathing when you sleep, it presents its own specific risks. There is a chance the brain might not detect a hypopnea episode and not send the signals necessary to wake yourself up and retain oxygen. The lowered oxygen levels experienced during hypopneas are main factors in developing other disorders mentioned above, including atrial fibrillation.
Overall, not getting proper sleep is horrible for your health in itself. Suffering from a sleep disorder only increases the risks and damage to your overall health.
What if I Think My Husband has Sleep Apnea, But He is Uncooperative?
A big factor behind sleep apnea being left undiagnosed and untreated is because many refuse to seek professional help and treatment.
If you are worried about your partner’s sleeping habits, the first step towards helping them is to educate them. Sit down and have a conversation with them about your concerns and explain to them why their symptoms might mean something to worry about. To help them understand more fully, you could refer them to any of the articles on our blog that explain sleep apnea and its impacts.
After you have given them enough information, schedule an appointment for him with us here at Advanced Sleep Solutions of Virginia. Be sure you make it for a time when you’re both available, as he’ll be more inclined to go if you are with him for support. If you carve out time of the day to attend the appointment with him, it will also hold him accountable for going.
Prepping for His First Appointment
Before you attend the first appointment, you should use the app Snorelab to record your husband’s snoring. The app will collect data which you will bring in for your consultation to help our team of sleep specialists better understand his symptoms and make a diagnosis.
The app is free to download and is very easy to use. Just open the app and press record, then set it on a nightstand or other surface near your husband while he sleeps so the app can successfully pick up his snoring and collect data.
In the morning, you will have a set of data that analyzes the intensity of your husband’s snoring! Be sure to bring this information in for your first appointment.
The Consultation and Next Steps
The next step is actually showing up to the appointment. We recommend escorting your husband to our office and, as mentioned, attending the appointment with him for support.
You will meet with Dr. Queen, the founder and primary sleep specialist of our practice. He will ask a few questions to better understand the symptoms your husband is experiencing and review the data from the app. In some cases, it may not be sleep apnea but rather chronic snoring or another type of sleep disorder, which Dr. Queen will help you create a treatment plan. In other cases, sleep apnea might be suspected, and an at-home sleep test will be required for diagnosis.
At-home sleep tests are non-invasive tests that allow you to do a sleep test from the comfort of your own home. You will be provided with the equipment for and the directions to complete the test yourself at home. Often times, you will only have a few pieces of equipment that you wear throughout the night. These pieces will monitor your sleeping habits, like your breathing and heart rate, throughout the night.
In the morning, you will send the data and/or equipment back to our office for review. Depending on the type of equipment, you may be able to use it and throw it out, simply sending the data collected to our office.
After the data has been reviewed, you will need to come back into the office to receive an official diagnosis. If your husband is indeed suffering from sleep apnea, don’t worry! Treatment and a better night’s sleep (for both of you!) is certainly possible. Dr. Queen will go over the severity of your husband’s sleep apnea with both of you and offer treatment options.
In most cases of sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy will be recommended for treatment. It is only for the most severe instances of sleep apnea that requires CPAP therapy for proper treatment.
Oral appliance therapy is a non-invasive treatment option for sleep apnea that involves wearing an oral appliance, similar to the fit of a sports mouth guard or night guard, during sleep. The oral insertion device works by holding the tongue in a certain position so that it doesn’t fall back and obstruct your airway. It also slides the lower jaw slightly forward to prevent obstructions and keep the airway clear.
Oral appliance therapy is reported to be a more comfortable treatment option and is easier to maintain and clean. It’s also portable, allowing for smooth traveling that requires no worrying about sleep apnea.
Some patients take some time to adjust to the feeling of the device and wearing it at night. In this case, Dr. Queen may recommend using melatonin supplements and essential oils to help your husband sleep easier during the adjustment period.
It’s important to encourage your husband to wear the device whenever he sleeps in order to prevent any apneic instances. Additionally, you should attend follow-up appointments with your husband, where you will get updated information that will improve your ability to better help him with his treatment. Being an encouraging certainty for your husband can make all the difference!
Enjoy A More Fulfilling Life Together
As your husband begins and maintains treatment, be sure to start sleeping in the same bed if you were not before. This is one of the most important parts to revitalizing a relationship damaged by snoring! Start doing enjoyable things you have not done together in a while – go on a date, take a vacation, have a movie night… whatever!
Better sleep will improve every aspect of your life, including your marriage. So take these steps now to get on the path towards a more enjoyable and fulfilling quality of life.
Tired of your husband’s relentless snoring? Looking to rekindle your relationship? Our team at Advanced Sleep Solutions of Virginia is here to help! You can schedule an appointment online or call us today at (703) 689-2480 for a free consultation.