A snoring partner can mean sleepless nights for both members of a couple – and that can lead to irritability and impatience the next morning. After a long day you both feel even more tired, which is not a good start to a romantic evening. And even when the stars do align, sometimes the body isn’t willing! What if you could get a good night’s sleep and overcome erectile dysfunction – without drugs? If you are one of the many Canadians with sleep apnea, there is a trusted answer that can address these, and other, health issues. Read on to find out more!
What you will discover in this article
What is sleep apnea (OSA)?
If you feel tired and/or sleepy all the time, or if you’ve been told you snore or stop breathing during your sleep, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be the cause. OSA can wreak havoc on your nights and your days, interfere with your sex life, and impact your long-term health. Here’s what happens:
- In obstructive sleep apnea the airway becomes blocked (obstructed) during sleep, which causes a pause in breathing.
- When we stop breathing our oxygen levels drop, which triggers the brain to tell us to wake up and breathe.
- However, we don’t wake up completely (these sleep interruptions are called “micro-arousals”).
- It’s these micro-arousals that disrupt our sleep architecture and cause us to wake up in the morning feeling as if we haven’t slept a wink.
How does OSA cause snoring?
Snoring is the sound that is made when you try to breathe in while your airway is obstructed. Some people with sleep apnea may make a choking or gasping sound, while others experience silent breathing pauses as they try to inhale. The common factor is that oxygen isn’t getting through to the brain.
Is sleep apnea coming between you and your partner?
For couples, the loud snoring and restless sleep caused by OSA can lead to less quality time in the bedroom. This is because one partner suffers through the noise while the other remains restless all night long. On top of that, studies have shown that sleep apnea can actually cause erectile dysfunction in men – and women with sleep apnea have lower libido, too!
The proven link between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction
Long before the “little blue pill” came along, researchers knew that sleep apnea could cause erectile dysfunction (ED). It’s not clear why this happens: some scientists have reported decreased testosterone in men with sleep apnea, but other problems related to OSA (including depression and decreased alertness) may also play a role. Whatever the cause, the connection has been known since 1977 – and the good news is, there’s a drug-free treatment that just might help.
How continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can tame OSA and improve your love life
Treating sleep apnea offers many benefits. After just a few weeks of therapy, most patients notice higher energy levels, a boost in mood, and more stamina. These improvements alone can have a positive impact on your love life. In addition, a study of 40 men with severe sleep apnea (ranging from 29 to 62 years old) concluded that CPAP “is effective for improvement of sexual performance.”¹ All of that, and a good night’s sleep, too!
So are you a good candidate for CPAP?
The way to find out is to get tested for sleep apnea. If you have OSA symptoms and feel that your sleep is not restful, it’s important to talk to your doctor about it. Apnée Santé offers simple, fast and effective home testing. You can also contact us for a free evaluation to see if sleep testing is right for you.
If the test shows you have sleep apnea, you’ll be prescribed a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) device. CPAP is the most effective treatment for OSA. Thousands of Canadians use it every time they sleep. CPAP consists of a gentle stream of air that is directed through the airway during sleep, allowing the airway to remain open, and thereby preventing apnea and the intimacy problems that can go with it.
Treating sleep apnea can improve libido for women, too
We know that OSA can cause sexual difficulties for men – but sleep apnea can also be a turn-off for women! Fortunately, treatment with CPAP can help rekindle the flame. In a study published in 2018, the researchers reported that women using CPAP experienced a greater improvement in sexual quality of life compared to those who didn’t.² So if you’re a woman who snores, why wait to get tested? CPAP might spark a positive change in your bedroom habits!
According to researchers, this might be your most effective pleasure-enhancing device!
So what’s the next step?
If you want to enhance your love life and the quality time you spend with your partner, the first step is to make an appointment to see your doctor. Make sure to let them know if you feel tired when you wake up in the morning, or if others have told you that you snore. Treating your OSA will make the bedroom a quieter and more peaceful environment for your partner (especially if you are prone to loud snoring). Most of all, it can lead to a happier and more energized relationship in more ways than one.
Here’s a checklist to review with your doctor for signs of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea checklist to discuss with your doctor
Do you have any of these symptoms?
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up during the night feeling that you’re choking or gasping
- Restless sleep
- Having a sore or dry throat in the morning
- Having a headache in the morning
- Sleepiness, low energy or fatigue during the day
- Feeling sleepy behind the wheel
- Weight gain
- Erectile dysfunction
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
If I have OSA, are there other benefits of CPAP treatment?
The benefits of CPAP treatment go far beyond improving your love life. According to Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler³, President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2017), “Obstructive sleep apnea is a destructive disease that can ruin your health and increase your risk of death,” creating health hazards that include high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Through treatment with CPAP, all of these hazards can be reduced. Now, that’s good news for you and your partner!
- Taskin U, Yigit O, Acioglu E et al. Int J Impotence Res 2010;22:134-139.
- Jara SM, Hopp ML, Weaver EM. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2018;144(7):587-593.
- Accessed at https://aasm.org/brain-damage-caused-by-severe-sleep-apnea-is-reversible/ on Aug. 7, 2019.