Nighttime Signs That Your Partner Might Have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Posted on: 18 July 2016

Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the body's upper airways become either partially or completely blocked during sleep. This means that the chest and diaphragm muscles need to pull harder in order to bring air into the body, and people who suffer from the condition often sleep poorly as a result. While it is possible to self-diagnose yourself with sleep apnoea, it's actually far easier for a partner to spot the condition.

If you think that your partner might have developed obstructive sleep apnoea, watch out for the following signs once they've fallen asleep.

Loud Snoring

One of the most inconvenient and trying problems that comes with having a partner who suffers from untreated sleep apnoea is the loud, rough snoring that they will often produce. Since the airways are experiencing a blockage and an excessive amount of pressure is being produced by the body in order to inhale and exhale, you might find yourself listening to harsh snoring as your partner sleeps. Luckily, a CPAP machine, which will be prescribed to work against the condition, will solve this problem.

Pauses in Breathing

Snoring is a real problem, but it does at least show that air is going in and out of your partner's body. More critical is a pause in breathing that lasts longer than around 10 seconds. You might be relieved when the snoring stops, but if this happens suddenly, and is then followed by a loud exhalation or inhalation after a few seconds, it's likely that breathing ceased altogether. Try placing your hand just above the mouth and nose to check the regularity of your partner's breathing during such periods. The stomach may move up and down as normal, but this could just be the diaphragm trying -- and failing -- to pull air down.

Frequent Short-Term Waking  

Finally, pay attention to any periods in which your partner seems to come quickly awake and then fall very swiftly back to sleep. This is likely to occur after a spell when breathing ceased altogether. Funnily enough, your partner may be surprised to hear about such fits of waking; the interruption in their sleep cycle is often not long enough for them to remember waking up the next morning.

If you notice these signs of obstructive sleep apnoea while your partner is out for the count, make sure you approach the subject gently. Your partner may be completely unaware that anything is the matter and find it odd to be told that you think there is something wrong with their health. The best thing to do is help arrange a trip to your local doctor. They will be able to ask your partner some questions -- if necessary -- before arranging a sleep study to check conclusively whether sleep apnoea is the problem.