When Your Partner Has a Sleep Disorder
Help Your Partner Manage the Sleep Disorder continued...
Many sleep disorders -- including insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea -- can be significantly improved, if not resolved entirely, with simple lifestyle changes that you and your partner can make together. Exercising daily, especially in the afternoon, often promotes healthier sleep. If your relationship has been strained by your husband's or wife's sleep disorder, setting aside time to exercise together could give you a much-needed opportunity to reconnect. Even more, daily exercise will help you combat your own sleep deprivation brought on by your spouse's sleep disorder.
There are also a number of dietary changes you and your partner can make to help alleviate troublesome nighttime symptoms. Aim to eat dinner several hours before you and your partner go to bed. Doing so can improve sleep quality for both you and your partner. Are you and your partner in the habit of having a cappuccino after dinner? Or perhaps you have a nightcap before bed? It might be better for you to switch to decaf or enjoy some herbal tea instead. Caffeine and alcohol are both disruptive to healthy sleep.
For some people, alcohol can even be the primary cause of REM behavior disorder. REM behavior disorder is a rare disease in which people physically act out their dreams. This often results in swinging fists and kicking legs. Nicotine, which is a stimulant, can also be a nightmare when it comes to getting good sleep. Encourage your partner to kick the cigarette habit if he or she smokes.
Additionally, make sure you and your partner practice good sleep hygiene. If you share a bedroom with your partner, make sure it's a restful place used only for sleep and sex. You can help your partner prepare for a good night's rest by designing a relaxing evening routine together. Perhaps you could listen to music or read side-by-side. And you'll both sleep better if you keep your room cool and dark overnight.
But what if your partner's fast asleep and you're lying there wide-eyed listening to snoring that sounds like a chainsaw? You can help your partner quiet the noise. Since many people snore the most when they lay on their backs, gently nudge your partner to roll onto his or her side and prop a pillow behind him or her. That will help your partner stay in a snore-fighting position.
Another way to keep your bed partner off of his or her back is to sew a small pocket of cloth onto the back of a pajama top or T-shirt. Before sewing the pocket closed, insert a small ping pong ball. The discomfort of the ball will keep your partner on his or her side, which usually produces less snoring.
In some instances, a loved one is the only reason someone agrees to follow through with the medical treatment plan for a sleep disorder. So encourage your significant other to comply with doctor's orders and take any prescribed medications. If your partner struggles with sleep apnea and has been told to use a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine overnight, gently remind your partner to put the mask on before falling asleep. It could save your sleep -- and your partner's life. If the noise of the CPAP machine keeps you up, consider moving the base unit somewhere else in the room, using a white noise machine, or wearing earplugs to lessen the sound.
And remember, it's always an option to have separate bedrooms until your partner's sleep disorder is under control.