He shudders. She gasps. Their snores could wake the neighbors!
In my 10 years of treating patients with snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, I have heard it all. While the wide variety of sleep sounds that come from bed partners can range from soothing to scary, the truth is that snoring, in particular, can indicate a real behind-the-scenes problem.
Snoring Problems by the Numbers
I am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, the only non-profit, national association dedicated exclusively to the practice of dental sleep medicine. We recently conducted a survey that revealed what may be causing relationship woes. Here are a few startling statistics from the report:
- Forty percent of women claimed snoring in the opposite sex is a turn-off.
- More than a quarter confessed that a snoring bed partner makes them annoyed or angry.
- One in five said a snoring partner could drive them out of bed.
- One in 10 Americans admitted that snoring has hurt at least one romantic relationship.
In addition to hurting your love life, snoring can also harm your health. It is a tell-tale sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious disease that can increase the risk for significant health problems. Untreated sleep apnea can raise your risk for congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and impotence.
Sleep apnea is often treated with a CPAP machine. It has a motor and long tubing, and it requires you to wear a face mask while you sleep – I understand how this might not be ideal for everyone.
As a dentist with experience in dental sleep medicine, I offer an effective alternative to CPAP by treating snoring and sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is a custom-fitted device that is similar to an orthodontic retainer. Worn only during sleep, it maintains an open, unobstructed airway and prevents sleep apnea and snoring.
Compared with a CPAP machine and mask, oral appliances are less cumbersome and more discreet for both the snorer and their partner. In fact, the survey revealed that single adults are twice as likely to prefer oral appliance therapy over CPAP therapy. When compared with CPAP, oral appliances can feel less burdensome, making it a less embarrassing choice than a bulky CPAP machine and mask. Oral appliances also come with the perks of being silent, portable, and easy to clean, and as an added bonus, they can help you avoid a potentially awkward conversation with a new sleep partner.
I’ve treated several couples who report that oral appliance therapy saved their relationship by silencing loud snoring. Treatment also improved their sleep – as well as their health and energy levels. If snoring is a problem in your bedroom, let’s chat about solutions!