It might sound a bit creepy, but observing your partner while they sleep could actually be beneficial to their health.
Luckily, you don’t have to stare at them intensely to save their life — you just have to listen.
What you should be listening out for is heavy snoring, one expert explained.
Speaking to The Sun, Dr. Verena Senn, a sleep expert at Emma Sleep said while it’s often characterized as simply an irritating habit, heavy snoring can be a serious problem for many.
She explained: “Sleep apnoea is a chronic sleep disorder whereby the upper airway is completely or partially obstructed during sleep, leading to a decrease in oxygen content in the blood and sleep fragmentation.
“As well as drowsiness and fatigue during the day, cognitive dysfunction and impaired work performance, sleep apnea has been identified as a risk factor for other clinical consequences such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke.”
Sleep apnoea is a sleep condition that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and restart when you’re asleep.
The main symptoms are feeling very tired, finding it hard to concentrate and having mood swings, the NHS says.
Dr. Senn said that sleep apnoea can often go undetected as it can happen without the patient’s knowledge.
“Sleep partners can therefore play a crucial role in recognizing this serious disease so it can be treated.
“Milder forms of sleep apnoea can be treated by maintenance of a regular sleep pattern, weight reduction, or quitting smoking”, she added.
There are other signs to look out for when it comes to sleep apnoea and experts say that if the snoring is really loud – then it’s worth seeing your GP.
Many people have no idea they snore at night – aside from those who wake up gasping because there is not enough air flow.
Watching your partner stop breathing, gasp for air and snore isn’t normal and that’s something that warrants seeing a specialist.
People with obstructive sleep apnoea will often also suffer with high blood pressure due to the stress the body has been placed under.
When you stop breathing during your sleep, your nervous system kicks in and raises your blood pressure, releasing stress hormones which will gradually also raise your blood pressure over time.
Aside from sleep apnea, Dr. Senn said there are other sleep disorders that can cause people health complications.
She said that a common sleep disorder in people who often travel long distances is jet lag.
Jet lag occurs when our circadian rhythms or body clocks (our natural and internal sleep-wake cycle) are temporarily disrupted due to changing time zones- this is often more prevalent when traveling east, she explained.
“When our circadian rhythm falls out of sync with our new environment we can have headaches, stomach problems and difficulties falling asleep at night as well as daytime sleepiness.
“Jet lag is pretty common and most will have experienced or are able to recognize the effects of jet lag.
“As a general rule, it usually takes one day per time zone crossed to adjust.
“For example, traveling from London to New York, you cross 5 time zones, so it will take approximately 5 days for your body to adjust properly.”
Dr. Senn said that one way to fight the effect of jet lag is to re-synchronize your circadian rhythm faster by exposing yourself to bright sunlight throughout the morning and day.
If you struggle to sleep in general, then you might have another sleep condition.
Dr. Senn said around 30 percent of adults suffer with insomnia which is when people struggle to fall to sleep.
She said this is usually divided into two types, Onset Insomnia is the difficulty falling asleep, and Maintenance Insomnia is the difficulty staying asleep.
“Common triggers include emotional concerns and distress or anxiety.
“This emotional arousal leads to an overactive sympathetic nervous system that controls the body’s fight-or-flight mechanism, releasing the stress hormone cortisol and making it extremely difficult for our body to rest and fall asleep.”
Treatments for insomnia include medication, psychotherapy, or behavioral therapy.
Medication such as sleeping pills should always be used in consultation with a doctor as people can form dependencies and often not see the results they hope due to the sleeping pills distorting natural sleep patterns.
Talking therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, focus on addressing the anxieties or issues which may be causing insomnia and may be a more effective long-term solution for many, Dr. Senn added.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.