The most common warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea is loud and frequent snoring. Often it is followed by silent pauses when breathing stops. Then choking or snorting sounds may occur when breathing resumes.
A person who has sleep apnea is usually unaware of the problem. So the bed partner plays a critical role in the identification of these symptoms.
But noticing the symptoms of sleep apnea is the easy part. The snoring may be too loud to ignore.
The hard part can be convincing a reluctant bed partner to get help. What can you do?
First, describe to your bed partner the sounds you hear as he or she sleeps. Mention that these sounds are indicators of pauses in breathing. People with severe sleep apnea stop breathing more than 30 times per hour.
If a family member or guest hears the snoring, ask him or her to tell your bed partner too. That way you're not the only one pointing out the problem.
Educate yourself about the many health risks involved with untreated obstructive sleep apnea. Share your findings with your bed partner.
Bring attention to any daytime symptoms of sleep apnea that you notice. These include severe sleepiness and drowsy driving.
Sometimes hearing is believing. For a skeptical bed partner, you may need to record the sound of his or her snoring.
That’s exactly what one member of the SleepEducation.com discussion forum did.
“I recorded my husband and then let him try to sleep while it was playing,” she wrote on Aug. 7 in a reply to a post about snoring. “He went and got a sleep study!”
Go along on your bed partner’s next visit to the doctor. Tell the doctor about the symptoms you’ve noticed.
Ask the doctor for a referral to an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. You can find one near you at www.sleepcenters.org.
Get more tips and read more about sleep apnea and the bed partner on SleepEducation.com.