The First Year: How to Deal With the Grizzly Bear in Your Bed

Now that you’ve unpacked those honeymoon bags, climbing into your brand new marital bed can reveal some discomfiting truths about your partner’s sleeping habits: Ahem, that chainsaw next to you? Even if you lived together before tying the knot and knew he wasn’t exactly a silent sleeper, the permanency of marriage may be making the prospect of tackling his snoring seem insurmountable. If Breathe Right strips or nasal sprays (or, you know, sharp jabs to the ribs) aren’t doing the trick, it might be time to haul him into the doctor — and here’s why.

Snoring czar Dr. Mansoor Madani, MD, president of the Center for Corrective Jaw Surgery and the Bala Institute of Oral Surgery in Bala Cynwyd (patients have flown in from as far away as Australia to silence their snores) has found a 9-to-1 ratio of male to female snorers — and, “More and more younger people than older people are coming into my office,” he says. “The main reason is usually that they just either got married or they have had their first child, and their spouse can’t take it anymore.”

He says the first step is an oral exam of the mouth, nose, and throat, then a look into your guy’s body weight (“Obesity exacerbates snoring more than anything else,” he says) and sleeping patterns. If it’s just a vibration of floppy nose or throat tissue, the treatments are pretty easy: Dr. Madani can zap the offending tissue around his uvula or tonsils with an hour-long, in-office, pain-free laser surgery procedure. Some patients will also need to combine this with a quick procedure that does something similar to tissue in the nose, but either way, the translation is the same: more peaceful Zs.

The worst-case scenario is that your new hub is snoring because he’s got sleep apnea, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In this case, chances are he’ll be sent home with a CPAP machine (Continued Positive Airway Pressure), in which a bedside unit is connected to a mask he’ll need to wear to sleep. “It’s not the most pleasant thing,” says Madani. “But from a medical point of view, it can save your life.”

Dr. Madani does caution that snoring worsens with age, so it’s really important for couples to educate themselves now. “They have to know that snoring could be a sign of a very serious illness, sleep apnea, and something should be done,” he says. And for those new husbands hesitant to act? “Just to get evaluated is not going to hurt,” he says. And it’s at least much less painful than sleeping — alone — in the guest room.