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Help for Snoring Hubby? Share the Bed

Study Shows Wife by Your Side Helps Keep Snoring Spouse on Track With Treatment
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 15, 2008 -- We've all experienced it, or heard about someone who has. You drift off to sleep and next thing you know, it sounds like a lumberyard. It's not a nightmare, it's your husband snoring in bed.

What do you do? A new study of married couples shows that the wife holds the key to helping the husband stay on track when it comes to treating sleep apnea.

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago looked at 10 men who were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and their non-snoring wives.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the term for the most common type of breathing interruption while sleeping. What usually happens is the airway collapses, causing blocked or shallow breathing, along with the sound of snoring.

The Snoring Study's Findings

The couples slept together for two nights in a sleep lab to get a baseline before being treated. Then for two weeks at home the men were hooked up to a breathing device that delivers CPAP, which is known as continuous positive airway pressure.

The study showed that the treatment went better when men slept in the same bed as their wives.

  • When couples slept together in the same bed the men used the breathing device four hours or more 74% of the time.
  • The shared-bed couples both had fewer wake-ups.
  • When the women left the bed, men only used the breathing device four hours or more 43% of nights recorded.
  • The women who left the bed woke up more, even when the men were breathing soundly and not snoring.

Study researcher Rosalind Cartwright of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago urges more research, with longer follow-up times.

In a news release Cartwright says the findings suggest that a married couple be educated together and treated as a unit by health professionals who diagnose one of the partners with obstructed sleep apnea.

Nation of Snorers?

Snoring was prevalent in the U.S. A. 2005 poll "Sleep in America" from the National Sleep Foundation. Pollsters surveyed 1,032 adults by telephone. Here's what they found:

  • 67% of respondents said that their significant other snores.
  • More than half said their snoring disturbs the partner's sleep.
  • 31% of those surveyed said that the snorer forces the other partner to sleep in a separate bedroom, or to use earplugs.

Excessive snoring is one of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, which affects millions of Americans. No one needs to tell you that a rocky night of sleep can be hard on a marriage. Sleep apnea can also be linked to hypertension, depression, stroke, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, and heart disease.

The findings of the new small study are published in the April 15 edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

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