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How to be Supportive if your Partner has Sleep Apnea

How to be Supportive if your Partner has Sleep Apnea

Users of PAP therapy often end up in a sleep lab in the first place because of their spouse or partner. The snoring is loud, the stopped breathing is scary, and they can’t deal with worrying about it any longer. The good news is that once your significant other has completed a sleep study and is set up on a PAP machine, there is relief once again and everyone is happy. Or, are they? 


It takes two to make this therapy work. Patience by both parties is key. For those sensitive to noise, initially using a CPAP/BiLevel can be intrusive to their sleep. Complaining will not help your partner with their therapy, and it’s best to be patient in the beginning so that those with sleep apnea will want to use the device. Eventually, the non-PAP user will get used to the sound of the CPAP/BiLevel as background white nose; if they still struggle with the sound of the CPAP, they can try ear plugs at night. 


Encouragement is helpful as well. Some PAP users feel pushed into getting a sleep study and using the equipment. Encouraging your partner will help them feel that you are with them during this adjustment period and not alone. Gentle reminders about why they are using the device can also help show that you care about their overall health and ultimately reduce the harmful effects of sleep apnea (including excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, risk of heart attack or stroke, or depression). 


Lifestyle changes can also help with the adjustment to therapy. Cutting back on caffeine use, smoking, drinking will only enhance the effects of using a CPAP/BiLevel machine. Regular exercise will also help the dangers of sleep apnea subside, when used in conjunction with the equipment, so go on a walk together to show your support.  


Remember that if your partner continues to struggle, they may need additional help. We can help troubleshoot the issues that are causing both of you to struggle with a new PAP user. If the machine is loud, we can determine if the machine is working properly. If the mask is uncomfortable, causing the user to tear off the mask at night, we can see if a different size or style of mask will feel better. There are many ways to resolve the problems that a new PAP user might face. 


Remember, in the long run, your partner's sleep apnea therapy success is not only beneficial to their health & well-being but yours as well! Give it time, and the therapy will be worth it for you both. 


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