Sleep Apnea & Spousal Sleeplessness – A Nocturnal Nightmare
My husband’s physician told him that Sleep Apnea usually causes more distress to the sufferer’s spouse than it does to the person with sleep apnea. This is a tremendous understatement. It’s a friggin’ nightmare!
I knew my husband snored before we were married. The first few times I spent the night over were difficult. I was used to sleeping in a dark, quiet room. If I was very lucky, the room would be dark (he liked to go to sleep reading and with the T.V. on), but it was rarely quiet because he snored. I was able to adjust and sleep through the din….for a while anyway.
Fast forward to the years when we had small children. Nighttime feedings and early mornings had cut into my precious eight hours. On top of that, my beloved spouse’s nocturnal noise had increased to a roar and he was prone to kicking, twitching and arm flinging. Sharing a bed had become torturous. I found little rest there and many nights I camped out on the couch in order to get as much sleep as I could while my children slept.
My husband and I had many disagreements about this arrangement. He felt that married people should share the same bed. I, on the other hand, thought a night of uninterrupted sleep trumped togetherness. Truthfully, I hated my husband for his continuous thrashing, kicking, snoring and assaults. I fantasized more than once about putting him out of my misery by smothering him with my pillow.
Even on nights where I started out in bed, I’d flee to the couch after being rudely awakened. Others, I’d simply wait him out (he’d sprawl out in the middle of the bed) and I’d nest down on the living room couch.
During one really bad week, I was kneed awake every night. I’m not sure what the cause was, but each morning found me more and more exhausted. On the fifth day/night, I was so exhausted, I slept through much of the kneeing, but I was having a dream about a faceless adversary who was attacking me. In my dream I became aware that there was always a warning event before an attack and if I was mindful of these warnings, I could attack first.
What was really happening is my husband would jump before kneeing me and in my sleep, I’d wait for the jump and kick him in the knee before he’d knee me. The next morning my husband’s knee was so sore from my counter attacks that he could hardly walk. I know it’s wrong, but sometimes I still laugh about that. I got a little payback in there at least.
We went through years of this before he went to a sleep clinic. As you can imagine, these restless nights were not good for our relationship. I resented that my complaints about his apnea were ignored. He was not happy that I didn’t sleep upstairs very much. I hated hearing “Oh, it’s not that bad.” whenever I’d relate what an awful night I’d had and my husband felt that we weren’t as close as we should be because I wanted to avoid our bed.
Many couples deal with sleep apnea issues. I can tell you from experience that ignoring the problem makes it a lot worse and creates unnecessary tension. If you’ve got a spouse who doesn’t think his/her problem is that bad, print out this entry and share my experience. If you’ve been accused of keeping your spouse awake and you don’t think it’s a big deal – It Is. All that nighttime resentment (hate) builds up. Both of you are sleeping badly (because of you) and that’s not good for either of you.
Go do the sleep clinic thing. Get it over with….and both of you get some sleep!