It’s easy to make light of what it’s like living – and sleeping – with someone who snores. Picture the frustrated partner lying wide awake in bed beside a slumbering and clueless snorer, contemplating the possibilities for revenge. Banishment to a spare bedroom? Maybe the garden shed would be better.

The truth is, snoring can be a serious issue for both the snorer and the partner. While the health effects of snoring, and the often-related sleep apnea, have been well documented, less attention is paid to the impact it can have on the partner.

Here are 7 ways their snoring is affecting your health:

1. Hearing Loss
While the noise from a snorer might seem like a chainsaw, the average sound doesn’t quite reach that level. However, it’s still loud enough to damage hearing. Studies have found that snoring can cause noise-induced hearing loss, especially in the ear that’s usually closer to the snorer¹. In fact, sleeping next to a snorer could be equivalent to sleeping next to an industrial machine².
2. Sleep deprivation
The obvious consequence for most partners of snorers – other than irritation – is sleep deprivation. Often, the partner of the snorer may not even be aware of how frequently he or she is roused from sleep. According to a Mayo Clinic study, spouses of snorers waked, at least partially, an average of 21 times an hour³. All these sleep disruptions add up – partners of snorers are more likely to report insomnia symptoms and lose, on average, an hour of sleep every single night⁴.

Sleeping with a snorer can disrupt your sleep 21 times every hour³.
These disruptions may cost you an hour of sleep every night⁴.

3. Memory and Focus
An occasional sleepless night isn’t usually cause for alarm, but prolonged periods of interrupted sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness, anxiety, distractibility, decreased performance and alertness as well as memory and cognitive impairment⁵.
4. Anxiety and Depression
Sleep deprivation has an even stronger effect on mood. A lack of quality sleep can lead to an increase in the production of the stress hormone cortisol⁶. Many studies have reported an association between poor sleep and stress, depression, anxiety and alcohol use⁵.

Poor sleep increases the production of cortisol, known as the “stress hormone” ⁵.

5. Weight Control
While we know exercise and nutrition play key roles in weight maintenance, it’s becoming more clear that poor sleep is a risk factor for obesity. A lack of sleep increases the amount of insulin secreted after eating a meal, promoting fat storage⁶. Obesity is strongly associated with the development of health conditions including type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
6. Cardiovascular Disease
Poor sleep on its own is also associated with a risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and stroke. In fact, just one night of sleep loss has been shown to increase blood pressure in healthy people⁵.
7. Relationship Health
Many couples resort to “solutions” like earplugs, snoring devices or even sleeping in separate rooms to deal with the stress of snoring — distancing them from one another and building feelings of resentment. The good news is that once snoring is properly addressed, relationship health often returns with studies showing increased marital satisfaction scores⁷ and quality-of-life scores⁸.

Properly addressing snoring can significantly increase marital satisfaction⁷ and quality of life².

What can you do about it?
If snoring is a cause for concern, start by getting a sleep study. Sleep studies can identify the specific nature and seriousness of sleep disorders, including snoring and related obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where breathing is interrupted during sleep. Then, with a proper diagnosis, treatment and relief become possible.
Traditionally, studies were only done in sleep labs or clinics. Wait times, limited accessibility, inconvenience and lack of comfort all make this option less than ideal. The first at-home sleep studies have improved convenience and comfort but provide limited results. The newest option in Canada is Cerebra sleep study – the most complete sleep assessment available. Learn more about how Cerebra can make a difference for both snorers and their partners.

Concerned it’s more than snoring? Learn the signs to look for.

References:
1. Sardesai, M. et al. (2003) Noise-induced hearing loss in snorers and their bed partners. Journal of Otolaryngology, 32(3): 141-145.
2. Parker-Pope, T. The Wall Street Journal. (2003, November 18). Dangers of Second-Hand Snoring: When Bedtime Is a Health Hazard. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10691056211882000
3. Luster, F. (2017) Impact of obstructive sleep apnea and its treatments on partners:  a literature review. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 13(3): 467-477.
4. Spouses Suffer From Secondhand Snoring. WebMD. (1999, October 05). Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/19991005/spouses-suffer-from-secondhand-snoring#1
5. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. National Academies Press; WA (DC), USA: Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: an unmet public health problem [Internet]www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19960/
6. Harvard Medical School. Sleep and Disease Risk. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, from http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk
7. Troxel, W. et al. (2009) Marital happiness and sleep disturbances in a multi-ethnic sample of middle-aged women. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 7: 2 – 19.