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How to Talk to Your Partner About Sleep Apnea

Couple sleeping back to back and ignoring each other on bed in bedroomIt’s not always easy discussing medical problems with a loved one, but (as with most aspects of a healthy relationship) communication is key. Dealing with sleep apnea can take a toll on the patient and their partner, so it’s important for both sides to know how to best approach this topic of conversation.Here are some helpful guidelines for couples to follow:

If Your Partner Is Dealing with Sleep Apnea

Multiracial couple holding hands

  • Learn more about sleep apnea. If you notice your partner exhibiting symptoms of sleep apnea, conduct some of your own research. That way you’re armed with facts and information when you approach them about it.
  • Be open about your concerns. Without treatment, sleep apnea can have numerous negative health consequences. Make sure you’re open and honest about this and other concerns—including how your partner’s untreated sleep apnea may be affecting your relationship.
  • Encourage lifestyle changes and CPAP compliance. Managing sleep apnea often involves using a CPAP machine on a nightly basis. Support your partner in using their CPAP machine as directed so they’re getting proper treatment. You can also work with your partner to encourage healthy lifestyle changes that may help reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea.
  • Be patient and understanding. It may take time for your partner to obtain a diagnosis and begin fully managing sleep apnea. This can be frustrating for anyone—especially if the snoring is keeping you up at night. Try to keep things in perspective and remember that your partner has a medical problem that they don’t have control over yet. A little compassion and empathy will go a long way.

If You’re the One Dealing with Sleep Apnea

  • Mention your sleep apnea when you feel comfortable. Discussing health problems with a new love interest is always difficult, but there’s no need to disclose everything on the first date. Wait until you’re feeling more comfortable around this person and then broach the topic casually. The conversation will probably go more smoothly than you expect. Just remember: everyone has something they’re embarrassed about.Couple talking outdoors in a park with a green background
  • Explain the importance of using a CPAP machine. Your partner may be confused as to why you need to attach an elaborate device to your face every night. Explain how a CPAP machine works—and remind them that part of its job is to prevent you from snoring so that you can both sleep better.
  • Take responsibility for managing sleep apnea. You may not be able to change the fact that you have a medical condition that keeps your partner up at night, but you can take control of managing sleep apnea to alleviate some of the burden on both of you. A caring partner will support you in these efforts.
The bottom line is that dealing with sleep apnea doesn’t have to cause a rift between loved ones. With proper treatment and effective communication on both sides, it’ll become just another part of the relationship.