Partners and Sleep

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benefit, the partner could sleep with earplugs so they don't hear the sound of the CPAP machine when their partner turns it on.

How can you get your partner to comply?

Many of my patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea are motivated to use their CPAP machine. If a patient is not convinced or comfortable, I try to identify why they are not complying. Is it because it is uncomfortable? Is it the noise? Is it the mask? Do they need a humidified system? There are solutions to all these issues, once you've zeroed in on the nature of the problem. Go to the sleep lab tech and work out why the patient or the partner doesn't like the machine. Resolving this problem is a key to successful compliance. There are serious ramifications to non-compliance and there are people who are happy to help you make the CPAP more comfortable.

Do you recommend sleeping in separate bedrooms?

This could be one solution, but this is very personal. It is not the first choice for most couples, but could be considered for the short term. Sometimes, couples are content with this solution. Each couple needs to look at the big picture and the overall priority: the health of their partner and a good night's sleep for all. You have to do what works for you.

--Suzan E. Jaffe, Ph.D. is a Board Certified Doctor of Sleep Medicine, Certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and an Advanced Registered Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. She maintains a private practice in Aventura, Florida where she specializes in behavioral sleep medicine, treating children and adults of all ages. Her first book, For the Grieving Child: An Activities Manual can be reviewed on

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2005 issue of sleepmatters.

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