ROANOKE, Va. – If you’re a victim or maybe the cause of sleepless nights because of snoring, you know just how frustrating it can be.
More than just a loss of sleep, snoring can lead to some serious relationship issues, including divorce.
About half of people snore at some point in their lives. Couple that with the seven in ten Americans who share a bed at night and you’ve got a recipe for fewer snuggles and more stress.
About 40 percent of men and 24 percent of women are guilty of snoring. It causes short-term problems for you and for the person trying to sleep next to you.
"I noticed when I woke up, I was just as tired as when I went to bed," said Eric Pellant, who has sleep apnea.
"At first it was just, 'Roll over, roll over,' you know, because it was keeping me awake," said Kathy Pellant, Eric’s wife.
The problems stretch beyond the bedroom though.
"If I stopped at a stop light or something, you may just, 'Alright, I’ll just shut my eyes for a second because they're heavy.' And the next thing you know, you hear a horn honking at you and say, 'Oh, I’ve got to go!'” Eric said.
"He would be grouchy all the time and not only grouchy, he'd be forgetful. He wouldn't be motivated so we would have projects planned and he wouldn't feel like doing them or he'd start to do them and stall because he was tired and he'd have to take a nap and I’m running around the house and he's asleep on the couch,” Kathy said.
"It was a bigger problem than I wanted to admit it was," Eric said.
Eric and Kathy certainly aren't alone. Studies show couples where one person snores are more likely to have marital issues and much higher divorce rates.
"It's a very prevalent problem," said Dr. Frank Biscardi, director of the Carilion Sleep Center.
Biscardi said the numbers for snoring and sleep apnea in Southwest Virginia are actually a bit higher than the national average because oftentimes, it's related to obesity.
In the lab, they're monitoring everything that happens when you sleep: heart rate, oxygen levels and every detail of how your eyes, arms and legs move. It’s all evidence backing up what the studies say and what the patient's partner already knows.
"People get sleep deprived and they get irritable and people sleep in different rooms and relationships get strained and people don't like to be told they snore. It's kind of hurtful even though 40% of us do it," Biscardi said.
It's embarrassing for a lot of people, but Kathy and Eric said doing something about it could keep you asleep and your relationship afloat.
"It's not real sexy to sit there and snore or drool and all that at night either," Kathy said.
"She's not having to walk on eggshells because she's around a fussy grump," Eric said.
“He felt better. He felt stronger. He felt more alert and it kind of just made his whole quality better,” Kathy said.
"Not only did my sleep improve, but her sleep improved and our relationship has probably improved too," Eric said.
The problems with snoring stretch well beyond your relationships. It could also lead to major health issues.
On Tuesday night at 6 p.m., we’ll take a closer look at those issues and what you can do to prevent them that could ultimately save your life.
Click here to learn more about Carilion’s Sleep Center, with locations in Roanoke, Westlake, the New River Valley and Lexington.