Sleep Hygiene
Snoring may impact marital satisfaction
Feb 3, 2006 - 3:37:37 PM

Snoring can have more of an impact on marriages than most couples think, a scientific study has shown.

The Sleep Disorders Center at Rush University Medical Center in Illinois has been conducting the study to evaluate how a husband's sleep apnea or snoring impacts the wife's quality of sleep as well as the couple's marital satisfaction.

"This is a frequent problem within marriages that nobody is paying enough attention to," said Rosalind Cartwright, founder of the Sleep Disorders Center.

"Couples who struggle with sleep apnea have a high divorce rate. Can we save marriages by treating sleep apnea? It's a question we hope to answer," Cartwright was quoted as saying in a statement from the Center.

The "married couples sleep study" is evaluating 10 couples in which the male has been diagnosed with obstructive snoring.

After completing surveys about sleepiness, marriage satisfaction, and quality of life, the couple spends the night in a sleep laboratory where technicians determine each partner's quality and quantity of sleep.

Following two weeks of treatment, the diagnostic tests and surveys are repeated.

"Our early results are showing that the wife's sleep is indeed deprived due to the husband's noisy nights. This is not a mild problem. The lack of sleep for both partners puts a strain on the marriage and creates a hostile and tense situation," said Cartwright.

For patients participating in the study, the Center offers treatment using continuous positive airway pressure. The non-invasive treatment prevents the upper airway from collapsing during sleep, allowing the lungs to function normally during sleep.

"Our early results have been terrific," said Cartwright. "It is beautiful to see couples getting along so much better."

The study of the first 10 couples is likely to be completed by April. Cartwright plans to present the findings this summer. If the results are promising, the study will be expanded to include more couples.

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