Saturday, August 7, 2010

Snoring and Sleeping with a New Partner

So we've established that dating is fraught with challenges for everyone but being a fat woman is associated with a few extra challenges. One of those for me is a bit of new challenge. In the last year I've started snoring. Now snoring is not exclusively a problem for the fat folks, but it is definitely associated with large neck circumference (which I have) and weight gain (which I did).

I've never been a great sleeper but in the last 6 months my sleep has gotten horrible. I've been stressed about work and I started waking up gasping on a frequent basis. My throat and chest were often sore and I was constantly tired.

I saw a doctor who specializes in sleep problems first in late May. He noted that I have a delayed phase sleep disorder and he was concerned about obstructive sleep apnea. He recommended a sleep study which I had at the beginning of July along with a program to help me shift my sleep pattern. He recommended that I stop exercising in the evenings which may be helping me sleep but I'm struggling with getting in the workouts that I know make me feel good overall.

So that brings us to the snoring. From my previous post, you know that I've spent a few nights this summer with someone new. The first night I hardly slept so snoring wasn't an issue. On the second visit, snoring became a bit of a problem. I find the fact that I snore very embarrassing. I'm not sure why because it's not really something I can control. I think the fact that it's new for me and I don't really have strategies makes it even more difficult. I just didn't know what to do about it. Luckily he was very understanding and though we did spend some time sleeping apart we were also able to make some time sleeping together work which was nice. I had the second part of my sleep study last night because the first one did reveal that I was having severe apnea in REM sleep. I'll be getting a CPAP machine and I got to try it out last night. I already sleep with a tooth guard because I grind my teeth so this is just going to add to my sexy quotient. I guess it's going to take a special guy to want to sleep with me and all my appliances!

Anybody out there dating with a CPAP? Or just as someone who snores? Got any tips? I guess there's not much I can do besides pull it all out once we get to that point and if we're comfortable enough to be sleeping together, I should be comfortable enough to put on my anti-snoring/keep breathing mask.

Some part of me hopes that I'm going to magically lose some weight by getting better sleep. The doctor mentioned that sleep apnea is associated with weight gain but that the data isn't clear on which causes which. He said he doesn't recommend that his patients try to lose weight before having a CPAP because apnea messes with the hormones related to weight control. I'm trying to remember all of my fat acceptance stuff and to love this body I'm in, but old habits related to the Fantasy of Being Thin still slip in every now and then. I do think getting back to regular yoga practice with it's focus on healthy breath work might be a very good thing for sleep apnea and I know it always makes me feel great as well.

Update: I just remembered that Coleen over at The Pretty Pear has been dealing with some similar issues (though she's not relating them to dating). Worth taking a look at her posts here and here if you suspect you might have apnea or another sleep disorder. She also links to the Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder information which I tucked in above.


  1. Oh man, I started snoring (briefly) because I had a sinus infection and it kind of horrified me. So I feel your pain!

    As encouragement, my friend Q. uses both an air machine for sleep apnea and has a long-term partner, so it's not actually that terrible. There are a lot of accepting people out there!

  2. My husband has a CPAP and had it when we first started dating. I'm also a snorer.

    When it looked like things might be heading for me spending the night, he explained that he had a CPAP and basically what it does (he told me how many times a night the study concluded that he wasn't breathing - which was a LOT and how low his oxygen levels got - brain damage territory! - but we also had shared a lot of information at this point, two months or so in.) I warned him that "I know I snore but being asleep, I have no idea how loudly. I will _not_ be offended if you tell me you need earplugs." No, it's not the most romantic of conversations but it got the basic information out there. We also are/were the kind of people who wait two months into dating for a sleep-over. He briefly fell asleep at my place once and I got to see what the CPAP was for (the snoring was, well, audible in other apartments in my concrete building.)

    I've had no trouble snuggling with him with the CPAP - sure it was a little windy at first but I just snuggle my head in more at his shoulder level, instead of face-to-face snuggling. Now, our cats? They think the CPAP needs to GO - our tabby can't sit on his head properly with that hose up there, sheesh, so she tries to pull the mask off of his face.

  3. Horrified is the right word Molly. I was really surprised by the amount of shame I felt when a friend first told me I was snoring. It doesn't make much sense but somehow I felt like it was a moral failing of some sort. I'm adjusting now, trying to tease out where this kooky idea comes from and hoping I meet one of those accepting people.

    Thanks for the story ladymeag. It's good to think about explaining the reasoning behind the machine as more than just snoring.

    I've had relationships where I wait and some where I haven't. My most recent fling and I spent a night together before we had sex due to the circumstances but I didn't let myself sleep much because I was nervous about snoring. The relationship before that I waited about 2 months for the sex and we never really progressed to spending the night together partly because I was worried about snoring so I would take off after a bit of cuddling.

  4. I've more frequently heard "You were snoring, it was so cute! You must have felt really safe/comfortable to fall asleep here." than "You were snoring, please leave." Maybe it's the type of people I date or something but I haven't run across the "Oh, God, she snores" attitude. I do know people who have, though, and it baffled me the first time I heard it.

    My 11-month old son snores - he's not overweight, he doesn't smoke - I have a hard time finding the failing that caused one to snore. Three of my four cats snore - and the fourth thought there was something wrong with her as a younger cat (she's a rescue and was trying to fit in) and started fake snoring when she kitty-loafed. Peer pressure, man.

  5. My ex used to snore, and had the CPAP machine. I'd never even heard of sleep apnea when we started dating but when he explained what it was for, I was like, "Go machine! Keep my sweetie breathing!"

    Since it was introduced right up front, it became a natural part of our going to bed routine. And I found the noise (his was a bit older, they're probably quieter now) comforting, like a white noise machine.

    I can see how you might feel uncomfortable with being seen in the mask.

    I'd recommend trying to be as matter-of-fact as possible and incorporate it into the routine of going to bed. Sexytimes -> cuddlestimes/talking -> mask on and sleep time.

  6. I dated a guy who used a CPAP, n I'm headed for a sleep study myself in a few weeks. I didn't think it was a big deal, but he was very into criticizing himself and he went on and on about the machine the first time and how terrible it was etc... The negativity bothered me and we weren't together long. But the machine had *nothing* to do with that!

  7. My snoring has been a big issue for me. I snore really loudly all the time and have for 20 years.
    It's gotten much worse as I've gained weight.
    I sympathize with the embarrassment you feel. I am mortified by my snoring and hate that I do it. It seems so unfeminine to me.

    I fear sleeping where anyone can hear me and I have spent many nights trying to stay awake so the person I'm sleeping with doesn't know.

    My current boyfriend doesn't care at all. He has dated snorers before and is just used to it, I guess. I was nervous at first but, really, it isn't something I can control so all I could try it see if he was bothered.

    I did warn him before we slept together the first time. It helps that he's a pretty heavy sleeper.

    I've opened up to him about how insecure I am about it and he is very supportive. That's helped me to start being more compassionate and accepting toward myself.

    Bottom line, if someone loves you they will accept you as you are.