When Your Spouse Has a Sleep Disorder

A partner with a snoring problem or a sleep disorder can put a strain on your relationship. Find out how sleep apnea and other sleep disorders affect couples — and what you can do to get some rest.

Does your partner’s snoring keep you up at night? Does he or she have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then chances are you’re probably not sleeping too well, either.

“A spouse’s sleep disorder is a big factor in a relationship,” says Mangala Nadkarni, MD, medical director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. “When a person has her sleep interrupted, it can lead to irritability, fatigue, and a stressed relationship. This is especially true when the spouse is in denial mode or does not think it is important to address the issue.”

How Sleep Disorders Affect Relationships

When one partner has a sleep disorder, it affects more than just the amount of sleep that you both get. It can have an impact on the entire relationship.

“According to the National Sleep Foundation, 23 percent of couples sleep apart due to snoring and other sleep-related issues,” says Matthew Mingrone, MD, president and medical director of Sereno, the Center for Snoring Solutions, in San Francisco. The National Sleep Foundation’s “2010 Sleep in America” poll also found that 17 to 23 percent of people indicated that their intimate and sexual relationships had been affected because they were too sleepy. In addition, more than 50 percent of respondents said that their quality of life was affected in some way by sleepiness.

By Wyatt Myers – Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH