One of the hottest topics I’ve addressed lately is sexless marriage – couples who for a variety of reasons rarely have sex, or have stopped having sex at all.
There are complex reasons this happens. But right now I’m going to address one of the less complex ones.
It’s something some of us chuckle or complain about, or reference in an obscure way – especially if it’s the woman who snores. I actually know one couple who calls it night-giggling, since the term snoring sounds so unfeminine! But in all seriousness, a snoring partner can make peaceful slumber a faint memory. And night after night of missed sleep can wreak havoc in our daytimes.
The danger, as with all relationship issues, comes with ignoring it. If we don’t discuss something when it is simple – “Honey, your snoring is keeping me awake” – then it gradually becomes more complicated. When it’s not discussed, it doesn’t get addressed, and when it doesn’t get addressed, resentment builds. While snoring may not be the ultimate reason a couple splits up, I’ve known marriages that were shaken by ignoring the impact of this common issue.
Sleep, snoring and sex
We all know quality sleep time is important. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get quality sleep. Let’s be honest – many of us don’t get enough sleep of any sort, quality or otherwise! The National Sleep Foundation’s latest study reports that only 3 in 10 people report feeling well-rested after a night’s rest. Do the math and that means 70% of us don’t feel well-rested!
Is snoring a part of the problem? Absolutely it is. In fact, one study reported at least 67% of respondents said their partner snores. Among snorers, more than half said their snoring disturbs their partner’s sleep. And 31% of those surveyed said the snoring drives the other partner to sleep in a separate bedroom or to use earplugs. Snoring may even increase your partner’s blood pressure.
But what about the connection to sex? Most of us don’t need research to answer this, but it’s good to know: a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that, after controlling for factors such as smoking, weight, and other medical issues:
- Men who snore a lot report less sexual satisfaction.
- Men classified as heavy snorers were two times more likely to report low sexual satisfaction, compared to those who snore less.
And this is not just a male issue. I know plenty of couples where it is the wife who is the snorer.
The challenge: Don’t let snoring come between you
Now I know snoring can be a serious medical issue for some individuals. If you have a diagnosis of sleep apnea or another serious sleep disorder, it can actually be life-threatening, so take whatever steps you need to keep yourself safe.
But for most of us, dealing with snoring is a quality of life issue, not a health risk. Healthy couples use their beds for two things: sleep and sex. Don’t let snoring mess this up. I guarantee sleeping in separate bedrooms on a regular basis will affect your sex life. I’ve seen it happen time and again – an occasional slipping out to the other room becomes a regular habit, and before you know it, the sexual connection is gone.
Here are a few ways to handle snoring, as suggested by WebMD:
- Change your sleep position. Use a wedge or body pillow to help you sleep on your side rather than your back. Some people even tape tennis balls to the back of their pajamas so they don’t roll over on their backs!
- Address poor night-time habits. Working late and drinking too much alcohol before bedtime can degrade what doctors call your “sleep hygiene.”
- Open your nasal passages. The more open they are, the more air you get, the less you snore. Take a hot shower before bed, or use a neti pot to clear your sinuses, or try nasal strips.
- Reduce dust in your bedroom. Allergens and dust mites in your pillow can stuff up your nose at night, so throw your pillows in the dryer on the fluff cycle every couple of weeks. And when’s the last time you dusted that ceiling fan?
- Get a sleep check-up. Talk to your doctor about your snoring. It could be that a CPAP device or other sleeping aid could completely resolve the problem.
And besides good sex, here’s another reason to stay in bed together: Women, you can save your man’s life! Studies have shown that men being treated for sleep apnea get better results from their treatment when their wives stay in bed with them.
Don’t get torpedoed
As with other marriage challenges, the real risk from the sleep-snoring-sex issue is whether it generates tension and resentment in your relationship. You have a choice: Talk about it now or try to clean it up later. Don’t be one of the couples that drifts along until something relatively simple such as snoring torpedoes your intimacy. We can help you discuss it in a healthy way, as well as point you to medical resources if needed.