Snoring ruining your sleep? What to do when your partner’s snore prevents a good night’s sleep – ABC News

Proven Natural Remedies to Stop Snoring

News Ticker

Live blog

Follow our live coverage for the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic

Share

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share this on

    Send this by

Print contentPrint with images and other mediaPrint text onlyPrintCancel

When you can't get a good night's sleep next to the love of your life, does separate beds mean the end of the relationship?

Key points:

  • One in three people say they lose sleep due to their partner
  • Sleep physicians say sleeping apart does not mean the end of a relationship
  • Some people can train themselves to relax to the sound of snoring

While it is assumed in modern society that couples will always share a bed, the reality is often very different.

According to Melissa Ree, a sleep psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of Western Australia, couples sleeping separately were far more common than many people realise.

"It's quite a strong cultural expectation that we that we will be sharing our bed with our life partner, but certainly the statistics don't bear that out," Dr Ree told Jessica Strutt on ABC Radio Perth Focus.

"What we see in the clinic is that there are quite a number significant number of people who are choosing to sleep apart for various reasons."

The expectation of perfect sleep

The biggest reason for sleeping separately, Dr Ree said, is when one or both members of the couple report difficulty with insomnia or being woken by snoring by their partner, leading to a lack of sleep.

Growing awareness of the importance of sleep, plus increasing pressures during the day have led more people to focus on rest, according to specialist sleep physician David Cunnington.

"The thing that I've seen a bit more in clinical practice the last sort of 15 to 20 years is an expectation of perfect sleep," Dr Cunnington said.

"According to research from the Sleep Health Foundation, one in three people say they lost sleep because of a partner's sleep problem, but for one in seven it's impacting on their relationship as well."

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.ListenDuration: 46 minutes 4 secondsSnoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News
Does sleeping apart spell the end of intimacy or a new beginning?
Download 21.1 MB

Love can't overcome genes and habits

Although it is a largely unquestioned cultural norm to share a bed with one's partner, there is no reason to expect it should lead to a solid eight hours of slumber.

"A lot of the characteristics of our sleep are genetically determined as well as things that we've learned it in our formative years," Dr Cunnington said.

"The person we choose as a life partner is usually not genetically similar to us and usually hasn't grown up in the same house as us.

"They're going to have very different expectations and very different biological needs in terms of sleep length, sleep timing, temperature of the bedroom, sensitivity to noise and light, attitudes and beliefs around sleep.

Couple in bed together - Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News
Love doesn't automatically equate to a good night's rest.(Unsplash: Toa Heftiba/CC0)

Amid disagreements over blanket hogging, having the TV on, the amount of light in the room and biggest issue of all — snoring, is simply getting used to the odd disruption in our sleep.

"This striving for perfect sleep can cause quite a lot of distress," Dr Ree said.

"A lot of us don't actually need quite as much sleep as we might think, the odd disruption to sleep should be something we can survive quite happily with."

Overcoming sleep separation stigma

But when it all gets too much, sleeping separately can be the perfect solution, although people can worry that it means the relationship itself is breaking down as well.

"It can feel quite unsettling in the relationship, there can be a sense of loss and of rejection with one partner having a desire to sleep separately as it's embedded in our values of what we think of as a close and intimate relationship," Dr Ree said.

ABC Radio Perth listeners shared their stories of sleeping apart, or wishing to:

Susan: "You don't need to justify and be judged by others if you sleep apart! Everyone's needs are different. My husband snores so loudly and I've had arthritis and medical conditions, so we have slept in separate rooms and beds for 13 years. It definitely doesn't mean your relationship is troubled! I'm into my 38th year of marriage."

Annette: "My partner and I have separate bedrooms, have done so for years now. We used to gauge my snoring on how loud he needed to have the TV volume up. We have been married for 40 years and have a very normal and loving relationship."

Jack: "I wish my wife would agree to separate sleeping. Every night I am waking to her snoring and trying to get her to stop snoring. She won't agree to it as she thinks it signals the end of our marriage."

Learning to chill out to your partner's snoring

For a person who is sleep deprived from their partner's noise, but can't bear the idea of bedtime separation, there is an alternative to earplugs — learning to relax to the sound of snoring.

"What we find is that it's not so much the noise that causes the sleep disturbance, but it's the thoughts and emotion attached to the noise that causes the disturbed sleep in the partner," she said.

Dr Ree has had success using the recordings that a patient made as proof their partner is a serious snorer to desensitise their response to the sound.

"We educate around this vicious cycle that develops where the more you hate the noise, the more it will disturb your sleep and the more it disturbs your sleep, the more you are going to hate the noise," she said.

"The recorded snoring became a really important tool — the partner listened to it while they weren't attempting to sleep and we started to pair a relaxation response with the audio tape of the snoring.

"It's a bit like being able to sleep under a flight path or near a freeway."

Take the emotion out

Both doctors said it was important to keep emotion out of the equation and simply weigh up the benefits of sleeping together or separately.

"I would never tell people they should sleep in separate beds or stay together," Dr Cunnington said.

"I would talk them through the pros and cons so they as a couple can work out what is going to be a good fit."

Share

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share this on

    Send this by

Just five nights of bad sleep can have dramatic health effects, 'as though you've aged a decade'

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Counting sheep won't help you sleep but less screen time will

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Why our brain needs sleep — and what happens when we don't get enough

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Designing the perfect house to treat insomnia

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC NewsMore on:

Top Stories

Popular Now

  1. 1.

    Premier announces separate roadmap to get regional Victoria out of lockdown

    Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

  2. 2.

    Facebook threatens permanent news blackout in Australia

    Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

  3. 3.opinion

    Djokovic's lockdown lunacy makes him public enemy number one at US Open

    Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

  4. 4.

    Live: Victorian man who tested positive for COVID-19 stopped while trying to enter Queensland

    Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

  5. 5.

    'She was going to change the world': Parents express grief for teenage shooting victim

    Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

  6. 6.

    84-year-old bashed after investigating disturbance outside home dies in hospital

    Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Facebook threatens permanent news blackout in Australia

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Premier announces separate roadmap to get regional Victoria out of lockdown

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Three new cases at Sydney high school as whole of year 10 told to get tested and isolate

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

The problem facing men who live with an abusive partner

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Opinion: Djokovic's lockdown lunacy makes him public enemy number one at US Open

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Live: Victorian man who tested positive for COVID-19 stopped while trying to enter Queensland

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

'She was going to change the world': Parents express grief for teenage shooting victim

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

84-year-old bashed after investigating disturbance outside home dies in hospital

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

Abused as young girls, one sister is dead and now the other is fighting to give silent sufferers a voice

Snoring Ruining Your Sleep? What To Do When Your Partner's Snore Prevents A Good Night's Sleep - ABC News

More Just InBack to top