It has already been known that if one has daytime drowsiness, a seventeen-inch neck and has been known to snore loudly, a sleep study is the highest of priorities and sleep apnea is very high on the different possibilities. Indeed, I don’t have to tell regular readers of Sleep and Health that treating sleep apnea can help health and life in ways that are immeasurable, but many readers may be unaware that same treatment will help your sleeping partner’s life in ways that are immeasurable!
Sleep apnea is characterized by a vicious cycle of sleeping, snoring, snoring so loudly that one actually stops breathing, begins gasping for air, waking up for a micro-second, and starting the process all over again. The problem in this cycle is that even though one doesn’t remember waking up,it actually happens! So a seemingly great night sleep is actually a conglomeration of 200 mini-naps, rather than a continuous sleep cycle. The normal sleep cycle usually consists of 90-150 minute cycles of going through 5 stages of sleep with stage 4 and REM as the deepest and most restless stages of sleep. The problem is that everyone needs a continuous amount of sleep so that he/she can pass through stages 1-3 correctly and finally achieve that so coveted restful sleep.
The above schema with multiple mini-wakenings not only affects the patient, but also affects the bed partner! Recent research at the Mayo Clinic studied the potential problems for the sleep-deprived partner of a loud snorer. The study revealed that partners of loud snorers woke up an average of 21 times an hour, almost as often as their snoring bedmates. They also woke from their sleep feeling exhausted. This carries into their daily lives manifesting in difficulty concentrating, focusing and a general feeling of fatigue.
Other problems with a partner might not carry the same sort of clinical diagnosis, but rather represent the way the person is! We all know those who steal the covers, pillows, and 9/10 of the bed! Yet, when the thieves are asked in the morning, they have no idea of what you are talking about … the unknowing selfish sleeper or “bed hog” as www.about.com’s Health Site so kindly dubbed it. In about.com’s article, they have outlined the numerous problems with a bed partner, most of which are easily treatable (sometimes so simply as turning OFF the television they keep on all night). However, they do delve into another pathology that is not so easily treatable, Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) (to be covered in a later article). This syndrome must be dealt with by your sleep physician and treated so that you and your partner can get the sleep that both of you deserve.
If we feel tired the next day, we will be sleepy during that big meeting or class! In fact, a study out of Johns Hopkins reported that systematic differences exist between patient- and bed partner-assessed quality of life in SDB (sleep-disordered breathing). Simply put this means that bed partners understand and report when their loved ones are waking up countless times at night. Bed partner ratings provide supplemental information on quality of life impairment in SDB. If your loved one is snoring loudly, or gasping for air and kicking you while doing this, it’s time you got him/her that long awaited sleep study! Better sleep can be a CPAP away!
NM. Differences in patient and bed partner-assessed quality of life
in sleep-disordered breathing. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Sep 1; 170
(5): 547-52. Epub 2004 Jun 1 Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.