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How to be Supportive of Your Partner with Sleep Apnea

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Supporting partner with sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea affects approximately 22 million Americans, but as many as 80 percent are undiagnosed. This disorder occurs when the airway is blocked by soft tissue obstruction, which leads to pauses in breathing. These pauses often cause people with Sleep Apnea to wake up frequently throughout the night, sometimes as often as every few minutes. People who deal with this condition suffer from inadequate sleep, which causes issues like excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep Apnea not only affects the sufferer, but often their sleeping partner as well. Here are some tips to help you be supportive of your partner with Sleep Apnea and encourage better sleep for both of you.

Seek Professional Medical Advice

If you suspect your partner has Sleep Apnea but hasn’t yet received a diagnosis, the first step is to see the doctor. You can have your partner fill out this Sleep Apnea quiz and print the results to bring with you to your doctor’s visit.

Ask your partner if they would like you to accompany them to the doctor for moral support. Often times, it helps to have another person in the room asking the doctor questions. Accompany your partner to the appointment so that you can hear what the doctor has to say.  This lets you learn more about Sleep Apnea treatment so that you can support your loved one.

There are a wide range of treatment options for Sleep Apnea, with the most common being the use of a CPAP machine or mask. A CPAP machine facilitates uninterrupted airflow so that the Sleep Apnea sufferer doesn’t experience pauses in breathing. This allows them to sleep for hours without interruption, although getting used to the machine can take some time.

Communicate Openly with Your Partner

Not everyone is comfortable talking about their medical issues with their partner, but by keeping the lines of communication open, you can encourage them to speak honestly about how they’re feeling. In turn, you can motivate them to seek medical advice, and let them know that you’re a source for support whenever they need it.

When talking about the issue with your partner, it’s important to be patient. Even if you’ve missed sleep because of their condition, don’t approach them with an attitude of blame. What’s most important is that they receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from their doctor or a respiratory therapist. Simply letting them know that you care and are concerned about them can go a long way towards getting them to seek treatment for Sleep Apnea.

Think You May Have Sleep Apnea? Take Our FREE Sleep Apnea Quiz!

Discover your risk for sleep apnea with just a few clicks! Our FREE Quiz is super simple and easy to use. You’ll receive a personalized score that will tell you how likely you are to have this sleep disorder and the next steps you can take for diagnosis and treatment.

Talk to Other People with Sleep Apnea and Their Partners

Sleep Apnea can be an isolating problem. For starters, lack of sleep can make you and your partner irritable and moody. You might feel like no one else understands what you’re going through. By reaching out to other people with Sleep Apnea and their partners, you can gain valuable support and even insight about treatment options. There are lots of online communities for those with Sleep Apnea. In addition, you may want to ask the doctor if there are any support groups that might be helpful.

Consider Alternative Sleeping Arrangements

Partners of Sleep Apnea sufferers may experience poor quality sleep themselves. Since people with Sleep Apnea wake repeatedly throughout the night, it may cause noise through tossing and turning. This can disrupt the sleep of their partner. If this is an issue for you, try sleeping with earplugs. Most earplugs are fairly inexpensive and can help reduce noise during sleep.

If you’re still not able to sleep, consider alternative sleeping arrangements on a temporary basis. Explain to them that the arrangement is only temporary and that things will get back to normal soon. If your partner is using CPAP therapy, it can take a few weeks for them to become accustomed to the machine. Eventually, you should be able to move back into your normal sleeping area and enjoy nights of uninterrupted slumber.

Encourage Healthy Habits

One of the best ways to support your partner with Sleep Apnea is to encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle. Not smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight are all ways to potentially reduce Sleep Apnea symptoms. In addition, encouraging and reminding them to practice with their CPAP machine can also help accelerate recovery and eliminate symptoms. By practicing healthy lifestyle habits yourself, you can serve as a good example for your partner and make them feel supported.

Having a partner with Sleep Apnea isn’t always easy. However, it is possible to support your partner while honoring your own needs. To learn more about Sleep Apnea and treating it with CPAP therapy, subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll send you special coupons and deals on our products, which include CPAP machines, masks, and accessories.

  • Daniela Brannon

    Daniela has researched and published over 60 articles covering topics that aim to inform and empower people living with Sleep Apnea. As an avid reader and researcher, Daniela continues to grow her knowledge about Sleep Apnea and CPAP therapy everyday with the help of coworkers, CPAP.com customers, and members of other CPAP communities online.

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3 Responses

  1. Great article. Getting a CPAP can be an emotional burden for both partners. Communication is the key. Both parties need to feel comfortable enough to express their frustrations to encourage middle ground and win-win solutions. One thing I think your article should mention is the responsibility of the person with the CPAP to make an effort to keep it clean. Not only for their health, see: http://cpap-cleaners.com/1187-2/ but also in respect to the person sharing the bed with them. Thanks again… Look forward to your next blog.

  2. I totally agree with what you said about seeking professional advice if you or your partner has sleep apnea. It’s always good to accompany each other and consult a doctor to be able to address the concern as soon as possible. There may be a lot of options for treating this condition, and it is best to ask a professional for their expert advice. If I have the same condition, I would definitely consult a professional right away. Thanks.

  3. I like how you say that one of the best ways to be supportive is to remind them to practice with their CPAP machine. I’m pretty sure that my husband has sleep apnea. He always wakes up gasping in the night, and he doesn’t get a good night’s rest. I think that I’ll have to find him someone to give him a treatment for his sleep apnea, and then I’ll make sure to be supportive of him.

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