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How can I be supportive of my partner who has sleep apnea?

Your partner may be the one with sleep apnea - a disorder in which breathing is interrupted throughout the night - but you may be just as sleep deprived as your partner. This can make being supportive of your partner more of a challenge. But communicating and working together will help both of you sleep better.

  • Talk about your concerns. Be open and honest about your concerns for your partner’s health and for your relationship.
  • Get some proof of the problem. You may want to record or videotape your partner while sleeping - and snoring and gasping - if he or she underestimates the extent of the problem. It may help you convince your partner that there is a problem (and how it is also your problem) and that he or she should speak to the doctor about it.
  • Take steps to modify the bedroom to promote better-quality sleep for you and your partner. Try making sure the bedroom is serene and conducive for sleep. Check the temperature of the bedroom, close the blinds or use blackout curtains, and turn off electronics several hours before bed.
  • Encourage your partner to change any lifestyle behaviors that may be getting in the way of good-quality sleep. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Offer to go for a walk with your partner to encourage daily exercise. Try some relaxing activities before bed.
  • If the snoring is unbearable and you can’t sleep, consider temporary separate sleeping arrangements. There’s no reason both of you should be sleep-deprived while your partner is being evaluated and treated for sleep apnea. Once treatment is started, the snoring should subside and you will likely be able to return to the same bedroom and get the rest you both need.
  • Be patient. Your partner isn’t trying to make you sleep-deprived, too. He or she has a medical problem, which sometimes takes time to figure out and treat. He or she may also have trouble adjusting to the condition and treatment and may also be feeling overwhelmed. Offer encouragement and avoid nagging, which sometimes backfires and makes your partner not continue treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.