I love you but I don’t love sleeping next to you

Social healthArticleFebruary 10, 2022

I love you but I don’t love sleeping next to you.

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By Kate Cross

Like most of us, Sally Gibson is familiar with a bad night’s sleep.

The culprit was her hubby’s snoring.

He’d “been a chronic snorer and tossed and turned for years [and] it got to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore”, recalls the UK-based business owner.

“I began sleeping in our spare room, which neither of us wanted but was necessary for my sanity.”

Gibson wasn’t alone in her nightmare.

Research from sleep technology company ResMed has found that 34% of adults report being kept awake by a house member’s sleep issues while another 34% say their romantic relationship would improve with better sleep.

The 2021 survey of around 2000 Aussies revealed that 28% of respondents used a sleep aid because of sleep issues affecting someone else in their home.

“One of the most common sleep issues is snoring and it often causes not only tiredness, but also resentment and frustration between couples,” says sleep health expert Carmel Harrington.

The managing director of Sleep for Health says, “there are many good reasons to treat sleep issues…but one of the top reasons is to protect the health of your relationships with others.”

“If you or your partner snores, the chances are you’re not getting the quality of sleep you need.”

Better zzz’s

Gibson says things changed for her and her husband when they realised more was at play – namely sleep apnoea.

“Some of what I thought was just snoring was his breathing stopping because of the apnoea,” she says, explaining that once it was diagnosed, he began using a CPAP machine which improved his snoring and sleep quality.

“I was then able to move back into our bed and both of our sleep has been so much better since then.”

Tips for loving (but disgruntled) sleepers

If you are struggling with poor sleep thanks to a loveable but snoring bedpartner, here’s what Dr Harrington suggests:

  • Realise the snoring might be serious – When “snoring is continuous and excessive, there’s a chance it could be sleep apnoea…That’s when you need to seek advice to avoid damaging your health and your relationship”.
  • Talk about it, but pick your timing – “[Discuss the] snoring at a time that you are not feeling angry or resentful about your disturbed sleep as this could be very unhelpful. [Also] help your partner understand the impact that snoring is having on your health and [your relationship].”
  • Encourage them to identify (and, if possible, address) the cause – This might involve seeking a professional assessment.
  • Consider a separate bedroom – For some couples, this can be “an absolute relationship changer. Having separate bedrooms does not mean an end to sex; rather it often results in a more loving relationship as you are no longer tired and angry from sleep deprivation. Just make sure, before you implement this change, that you have an adult conversation about the need for both of you to be well-slept”.