Death and Taxes … and Snoring
Confessions from the Guest Room
Nothing in life is certain, but death and taxes. True, but in my mind the list is incomplete. Snoring and sleep problems, the handmaidens of the middle-aged and elderly, are also life’s certainties.
And if you agree, then it is time for true confessions. Fess up, ladies. How many of you have fled the marital bed and sleep in separate rooms from your husband or significant other?
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. OK, you are alone. What I mean is that you’re not alone in sleeping alone.
Nearly one in four couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds, according to a 2015 survey by the National Sleep Foundation. And another study puts the number of married-but-sleeps-solo set even higher, at 30-40 percent.
For their part, the National Home Builders Association predicted years ago that more and more homes would be built with dual, adjoining master bedrooms.
“To Sleep, Perchance to Dream”
Sadly, in my family, if the bedrooms were adjoining, the walls would need to be buttressed with the same material used to protect Fort Knox’s gold reserves. In the words of one visiting family member, Handsome Hubby’s snoring is so loud, it is “epic.”
It is, in fact, so loud that Joshua would not have needed a trumpet to cause those old walls of Jericho to come a-tumblin’ down.
HH began snoring about the time our second child was born. I didn’t need a Fitbit to tell me I was in trouble. Two wee folk not sleeping through the night plus one snoring husband equaled one exhausted, weepy me.
Done in and dragging, I longingly looked back on my own childhood, when I could sleep through anything – even an earthquake, as I did on a family trip to San Diego.
Cave Mama Mania
Then, with the birth of my children, my cavewoman, primal hyper-alert mama sensory instincts kicked in, and, as mothers of all ages can attest, never kicked off.
The pediatrician suggested valium. Aghast, I asked, “For the children?” “No, for you,” he replied.
I did not heed his advice, but I did move the baby monitor to HH’s side of the bed. I also turned the volume all the way up, so he would actually be roused by the babes’ plaintive wails. It worked. HH took over nighttime kid patrol, but when he flopped back into bed, his snoring reached new crescendos of loudness.
Till Snoring Do Us Part
In desperation, I decamped to the guest room … temporarily, I thought. Two decades later, I’m still there.
We’ve tried all sorts of snoring solutions – nasal strips for HH, tennis balls under his pillow, bite guards, chin straps, clothespins, earplugs for me, noise canceling devices, and multiple, sometimes simultaneous white noise machines. Nothing has helped.
In an act of true marital devotion, HH went for this nasty, foul-smelling radio wave surgery that burned tissue in his throat. It was supposed to widen the airway and make nocturnal breathing easier. It did not nor did not stop the snoring. Instead, it created a chronic uncomfortable tickle in the back of the throat, causing HH to clear his throat constantly and cough non-stop when he gets a cold.
Poor HH, you say.
Yes. But don’t forget about poor me.
Once on a trip, desperate for sleep, I tried curling up in the hotel bathtub. I don’t even take baths in hotel tubs, preferring – for sanitary reasons – to shower.
Can This Marriage Be Saved?
My girlfriend’s spouse sleeps with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. It’s a bit bulky. A bit noisy. And, according to my friend, it’s a real buzz kill in the romance department. She cannot decide if she’d rather contend with the snoring and the occasional gasping for air that comes with her husband’s sleep apnea or live with this eternal nocturnal threesome with hubby and his CPAP pal!
All these marital sleep problems would have made great fodder for that “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” advice column that ran in the Ladies Home Journal in the 1950s! Who knows? Maybe it was. If so, I bet the advice then was, “Ladies, suck it up, smile, and suffer in silence.”
Death and Taxes … and Snoring
For me, most maddening of all is HH’s snoring denial. On those rare wild and crazy nights when we attempt a sleep-over, HH instantly zones out. And instantly the buzz-saw blitz begins. I try nudging him into a different sleeping position, first gently, then less gently, and then, finally, with a firm karate chop to the larynx. He awakens, claims he wasn’t snoring, and then, insists he “wasn’t even asleep yet.”
So, the hunt for relief from HH’s nighttime snorts continues. We search online for magical solutions. Concerned family members and friends send us the latest tips on products and medical procedures. We buy gadgets galore including “next-gen” pillows that monitor and react to snoring, vibrating to encourage the snorer to change positions.
And to console ourselves, we read aloud the plethora of articles extolling the virtues of couples sleeping separately. These articles note that given the general erosion of quality sleep and the different work schedules of couples, it makes sense for individuals to get a good night’s sleep. The experts say without enough sleep, couples are unhappy, tend to overeat, don’t exercise, and relationships – personal and professional – suffer.
Yet, somehow despite the benefits and increased popularity of solo sleeping, the practice is still shrouded in secrecy and embarrassment. Nobody likes to admit to separate bedrooms. Even I, after all these years, refer to my room as the “guest room.”
She Snores (Not)
And since I am airing dirty laundry about HH’s sonorous slumber, I must in good conscience share a rumor that I personally cannot verify. I have been told by unreliable sources (namely HH and my children) that I too make “sounds” while sleeping. I am NOT saying I too snore. That, I feel is a vile, villainous innuendo.
And my best girlfriend agrees. She says this “You snore too” accusation is a common male defense. She says whenever she complains about her spouse’s snorts and growls, he immediately follows the “I wasn’t even asleep” lie with a quick “Well, you snore, too” retort!
Oh, well. I guess the words of Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, sum it up best:
“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”