Finding the missing link…..

I’m the first person to do whatever I can to get a good night’s sleep – and I know I’m not alone in my quest. However, sometimes finding out what’s getting in the way of the sleep we all crave is not as obvious as we would all like it to be. Darn you life and your complexities!

As I’ve noted just a few times, snoring is a common dilemma for couples and regrettably, can lead to one partner disturbing the other’s sleep. It’s hard to dispute that the predominant place to snore is in bed (it’s why some of us like to find another one at times) and when that snoring is persistent and long term, the disruption often builds resentment, which can cause stress in the relationship.

Unfortunately, attempts to discuss the issue when sleep deprived means we are trying to solve problems when our communication skills are at their weakest, which leads to more stress and misunderstanding, more resentment, and….. the outcome is not pretty, as far as trying to develop a functioning relationship goes (that scenario is a whole other ‘missing link’ post).  In my post titled ‘Thinking about Separate Sleeping?’ I covered some of the things you can say to be able to gently start a discussion about the topic of ‘getting good sleep’. Hint: make sure you’re not sleep deprived.

I’ve written a lot about how to deal with the ‘people’ side of dealing with sleep disruption, but while searching for ways to solve the dilemma, there are times when couples can miss some of the problems right in front of them. Sleep hygiene factors can be a source of sleep disruption. There’s the room temperature, the amount of light and noise to be tolerated, the thickness and weight of bedding and a factor not thought of often enough – your mattress.

Research by The Snoring Center, has found that a mattress is partially responsible for several processes that happen to your body while you sleep. Taking it back to basics – snoring is predominantly caused by an obstructed airway—usually throat tissue­, which vibrates, causing the annoying sound. Added to this is the fact that the snorer is not getting enough oxygen, therefore leading to breathing  becoming heavier, leading to even louder snoring. A cruel set of unfortunate events indeed! If you darling partner is suffering from sleep apnea, you can add in the involuntarily shutting off of their trachea,  which results in you being jolted awake as your loved one suddenly gasps for air.

Another downside of sleep deprivation (if only there weren’t so many!)  is that snoring may lead to other more life-threatening disorders – feel free to refer back to this post highlighting a study which revealed that the decline of brain function including memory loss is linked to snoring.

While I’m all for gender equality, there is the ongoing and unassailable fact to remember that as much as we strive to be just like one another,  quite simply – men and women are built differently. The health experts at HelpGuide explain quite tactfully that (like it or not) men have narrower air passages, which is why snoring is more common among them, and not so the fairer sex.

So back to the mattresses then. If you are older, you have probably bought enough beds to realise just how important a good mattress is. Thankfully as we age, we can enjoy the pleasures of a comfy bed and Egyptian cotton sheets – I know I do. However, mattresses do also have an impact on how our body is positioned and supported each night, and a reality is that an item as simple as the right mattress can actually help to address snoring problems. On a most practical level, the right mattress can provide the support needed for you, and your snoring loved one, to be able to stay in sleeping positions that don’t affect airways.

And while you ponder if your mattress is aiding and abetting your snoring bandit, the other aspect of your nightly infrastructure logistics challenge is the size of your bed, too.

Having more space may just give you the distance you need to find your own sleeping groove a little further away from the snoring medley, the heavy breathing, or the thrashing legs and arms. If this interests you – check out this nifty list of tips in Bustle.

But back to mattresses. Hands up if your partner’s mattresses is too hard? Too Soft? Too lumpy? Too thin? And are you feeling like Goldilocks yet? While I know it’s not sexy to discuss mattress materials when you are dating, when you settle down, this stuff becomes important. (so maybe leave it until the third or fourth date.)

In the consumer wonderland we inhabit, there are spring mattresses, memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses, and the list goes on. And if you are someone who likes to ‘mix it up’ there are also hybrid mattresses, which have started to become mainstream as well and personally, I find to be incredibly comfortable. For example,GQ magazine showed how Sapira, a brainchild of the same people behind the American mattress manufacturer Leesa , applies three layers of material on their hybrid mattresses: stabilising foam with springs, cooling foam and; memory foam. Mattresses have come along way from the days of the ‘inner spring’, so if it’s been a while since you replaced (or even thought about) your mattress, don’t restrict yourself from trying out various types to see which works for you.

Whatever you find works for you, the baseline is to find a bed that meets your physical needs for sleep, which simply means less disturbance and a good sleeping posture to hopefully reduce snoring. Even more hopefully, the result is better sleep and ultimately, a happier relationship.

Now surely that’s a missing link worth investigating, isn’t it?


PS: This is a collaborative post written by Eva Parker and me.

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