Snoring, and the consequent disruption of sleep for both partners, is a common occurrence that may have more of an impact on the marriage than most couples think.
Not the least of the problem is sleep deprivation. If your mate’s snoring keeps you awake night after night, then obviously you are not getting the sleep you need. Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, muddled thinking and even illness.
Lack of sleep also leads to poor performance at work and can disrupt family life. When you add all these factors together, it’s no wonder that snoring can lead to divorce.
Often, when a spouse is disturbed by the partner’s snoring, he or she will move into a separate bedroom. According to a recent survey, 80% of snoring couples sleep apart. This is another thing that does not bode well for a good sex life and a happy marriage.
Hormonal Issues in Snoring OSA
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is more common in males than females, and prevalence may increase following the menopause in females. This highlights the significant role of the sex hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone in the cause of OSA.
Testosterone secretion rises as sleep begins and continues to increase throughout the night. Most hormone peaks occur in non rapid eye movement sleep. Cortisol (the body’s natural steroid) production is also tied to the 24 hour body clock, but in the short term cortisol profile is maintained if sleep pattern is altered.
Obstructive sleep apnea produces sleep fragmentation and may also produce falls in arterial oxygen level (hypoxia). Both sleep fragmentation and hypoxia cause abnormalities in hormone production, in particular a reduction in growth hormone and sex hormones, and a rise in the adrenaline level.
Poor Libido, Erectile Dysfunction and Low Sperm Count in Men
In adults, low sex hormones during sleep can produce diminished libido and impotence. Erectile Dysfunction and low sperm counts are reported in moderate to severe OSA patients.
Poor libido in women
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been tried in postmenopausal females with OSA and snoring. This may be helpful in mild OSA, but has not been successful in reversing more severe cases. However there are many other good reasons for prescribing HRT in the menopausal period including reduction in cardiovascular risk, so that a trial of HRT is usually worthwhile.
CPAP-Continuous positive airway pressure is the treatment for OSA, if surgery cannot be performed. The good news here is that effective CPAP helps improve hormone profiles during sleep and is usually associated with an improvement in libido.
(Till snoring do us part!)