It’s like an orchestra in my bedroom at night—and I am not talking about violins. The symphony I listen to on a nightly basis is one of snoring. Swap out strings and woodwinds for honking and wheezing and you get the idea. Like any of you who snuggle up to a snorer at night, I am regularly exposed to what’s known as “secondhand snoring.” Remind you of secondhand smoke? It’s the same basic phenomenon: people who sleep with snorers are likely to suffer some of the same problems as snorers themselves.
Anyone who sleeps with a snoring bed partner knows how frustrating and tiring it can be. It turns out, secondhand snoring can be a lot more than just irritating—it’s also unhealthful.
You’ve probably heard about the health risks that come about from snoring. That’s because most of the medical research that’s been done about the effects of snoring has looked at the risks to snorers themselves. Which makes sense, of course—except when there are two of you in the room. Then all that scientific attention to the snorers themselves starts to seem…a little incomplete.
There is a small amount of scientific research that backs up what many of us know through our own experience: that those of us who sleep with snorers experience the effects of sleep deprivation too: we wake tired, we feel groggy and unfocused during the day. Especially after a bad night, we’re prone to being irritable and impatient—especially with our partners. By the time mid-afternoon rolls around, we’re looking for a couch to curl up on. Here’s a look at what scientists have discovered about the effects of snoring on bed partners. Some of it may sound familiar, and some might surprise you:
- According to one study, nearly half of partners of snoring men had their own sleep disturbed almost every night. Nearly a third of the couples in this study said they had problems in their relationship that they attributed to snoring.
- Sleeping next to a snorer may actually cause damage to your hearing. A study of chronic middle-aged snorers found that their bed partners experienced symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss.
- People who sleep with snorers wake almost as often at night as snorers themselves do. One study found bed partners to snorers woke an average of 21 times an hour! This same research also looked at how partners’ sleep improved once snoring was treated. The results were significant: partners slept much more soundly and got more rest, getting an average of an additional hour of shut-eye a night.
- Treating snoring, and obstructive sleep apnea that may cause snoring, can improve a partners’ physical and mental health, as well as their daytime energy and vitality, according to research.
I love a good symphony, but not while I’m trying to sleep. I also want to protect my own health as well as protecting my husband’s. For the sake of both of us—and for the irreplaceable pleasure of a peaceful night’s rest—we’re making addressing his snoring a priority.