Purpose: This study aimed to determine if the intensity of breathing noise (including snoring) and/or the presence of abnormal breathing events (ABE) are factors that trigger arousal/awakening of a snorer's bed partner.
Methods: We conducted a prospective multicenter study investigating couples where the male had a chronic disturbing snoring. We simultaneously recorded the male's respiration and snoring and the female' sleep. We counted the number of arousals and awakenings during N2 sleep and randomly took nine of each. Then, for periods before, during, and after each arousal and awakening, we observed on the respiratory tracings what was happening in terms of breathing noise intensity and presence/absence of snoring and/or ABE.
Results: Thirteen couples were analyzed. The intensity of breathing noise and the presence/absence of snoring and/or ABE were comparable before and at initiation of arousal/awakening and between arousal and awakening. However, breathing volume intensity was lower and the presence of snoring and/or ABE was less frequent when the bed partner returned back to sleep from awakening compared to the other periods (p always <0.001).
Conclusions: The intensity of breathing noise or the presence of ABE does not seem to be essential to trigger an arousal or an awakening. However, the persistence of noise or events may prolong the duration of wakefulness during the sleep period and could be one factor that explains the bothersome snoring.