3 Tips for Living With a Partner With Sleep Apnea

It’s a fact of life: Sleeping with your significant other isn’t always as idyllic as it appears in the movies. Whether they’re a cover hoarder, dream mumbler, or tosser-and-turner, a partner can make co-sleeping less than restful. 

Not only do you wake up tired, but it adds an extra layer of stress to your relationship. While not every sleeping habit can be fixed, many can. Some may even signal a more serious, underlying problem that needs addressing. 

Sleep apnea is a common condition in which breathing stops and starts, often resulting in loud snoring and disruptive sleep. If you know or suspect that your partner has sleep apnea, it’s important for them to seek treatment. 

Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health concerns, including stroke and heart failure. Not to mention, it can continue to cause disruptive sleep patterns, which aren’t good for your bedmate or you. 

Fortunately, there are things you can do as a partner to help your loved one with their sleep apnea. Keep reading for three tips that will help both of you sleep better and sounder. Sweet, peaceful dreams are in sight!   

1. Have an Open Dialogue About the CPAP Mask 

One of the most common therapies for sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This device delivers pressurized air via a tube affixed to a mask that fits around the individual’s nose and mouth area. Every mask is a bit different, so it’s important to find the best CPAP mask for your partner’s needs.  

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Now, as you can imagine, these masks aren’t the most attractive devices. High-quality sleep is obviously more important than appearance, but that may not change your partner’s initial reaction to the mask. No one enjoys feeling that they look just like Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises”! Reassure your partner that you don’t find them any less attractive and that you appreciate their efforts to make sleeping better for you both. 

Be aware that you may need to keep up the stream of happy talk for a while. Although most sleep apnea patients adapt to them in time, CPAP masks can be cumbersome, and your partner may balk at having to wear one. Remind them of both the health benefits for them and the snoring relief for you. It’s your sleep that is being wrecked as well, so you want to be on the same page about the mask. The more you talk about it upfront, the easier it will be to adjust to the mask together. 

2. Encourage Healthful Living

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition, meaning it can’t be completely cured. At the same time, there are ways to reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. These, not surprisingly, start with living a healthful lifestyle and avoiding certain temptations, such as alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes. Research shows that making these lifestyle modifications can help those with sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea tends to be more common among those with a higher body mass index and individuals who smoke or drink regularly. This is why certain lifestyle changes can be helpful in reducing symptoms. 

If you suspect some of your partner’s habits are triggering their sleep apnea, speak up. Again, having an open dialogue can be productive for both of you. No matter where you or your partner are on your health journeys, embracing a healthier lifestyle together can be a positive experience. 

It’s easy to rush into a new healthy routine, but that doesn’t often work in the long term. Instead, take small steps each week to benefit your health together. This can be going on an evening stroll after dinner or committing to cooking more at home. 

Small tweaks such as drinking more water or even stretching while you watch television are also beneficial. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to be hard, but it does take commitment. 

3. Cultivate a Peaceful Sleep Space

Imagine how it would feel waking up in a space that feels like a spa or resort. That dream can become a reality when you create a bedroom that is meant and designed for peaceful slumber. It’s another way for you and your partner to get better sleep. Redesigning your bedroom or even just adding some small touches to it can be fun and enjoyable. 

One of the easiest ways to reinvigorate your bed is with fresh sheets. Choose a high-quality set that you and your partner both like and find comfortable. Get a humidifier to improve air quality — another proactive step that can help those with sleep apnea. 

Lastly, new pillows are an easy swap that will have both of you waking up more rested. A pillow that properly positions your partner can help them breathe more easily throughout the night.  

Now that you have the bedroom of your dreams, set some ground rules. The bedroom should be used for sleep and intimacy, not working from home or watching television. 

Keep your phones charging outside the bedroom, such as in a home office or kitchen, so they don’t distract you. Turn lights out and install blackout curtains or use an eye mask for total darkness. Both of you will drift off faster and sleep better with these few adjustments alone. 

Sweeter Dreams Ahead

Sleep is precious. If your partner has sleep apnea, you may feel like you’re living with their condition, too. Have a discussion about their condition and identify ways for both of you to live healthier and sleep better. It may take some work, but your future, well-rested self and improved relationship will thank you!