Partners and Sleep

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What should you do if you suspect your partner has a sleep disorder?

Suzan E. Jaffe, PhD

Suzan E. Jaffe, PhD

If someone comes into my office and tells me that they suspect their partner has a sleep disorder, the first thing I do is ask when they first noticed the partner's sleep symptoms. I like to know if the partner has shown symptoms for a long time or if the person is only noticing the issue now. Why? Because sometimes I find that people who realize their partner has a sleep disorder after years of living together could be dealing with sleep issues of his or her own.

Take for an example, a married couple with a husband who snores. If the wife goes through a bout of insomnia – she may suddenly take notice of the snoring because she can't sleep.

Usually, bed partners get into a comfortable routine – they may even get used to sleeping with a snoring partner. Each partner has to take into consideration if there has been a change in the norm. If you’ve been together for years and all the sudden you have a problem – it may be treated differently from a new couple that has never been able to adjust to a sleep issue.

Out of respect, if the problem is causing your partner to sleep in another room or get injured (bed partners who kick or move a lot when sleeping) – you should see a sleep doctor. Snoring shouldn't be ignored – especially if it is loud with frequent pauses in breathing.

What are some methods for coping with a snoring partner?

There are some couples that choose to have separate bedrooms. It works for some people, happily. They may go to one bedroom to watch TV, read or have sex and then go to sleep in their respective bedrooms.

You could also try to train a person to sleep on their side or stomach, which may help prevent snoring. You can prop pillows in a position so the snorer is on his or her side or stomach and can't flip onto