Snoring

[Commentary]

1994

It's funny how you can go through your life not knowing anything about something, and then one day when you find yourself getting middle-aged, you discover all about some horrible fact of life. I did this. I knew nothing about snoring until I met Anne at age 35. I must have led a fairly sheltered life to avoid any contact with snoring until this age. I mention snoring to other people and they all have their horror stories to tell.

Five years ago, at 4:00am in the morning when I was desperate for sleep but couldn't get it, I wrote a brief article on snoring. It was an attempt to set down how I felt about snoring. When you are the victim of a snorer, you have two modes - the day mode and the night mode. In the daytime, you know that you don't like snoring but you can't quite remember why. The horrible reality has been blanked out. The bad times are temporarily distanced. But in night mode, when you are subject to the soul-destroying noise of a good snorer, then your attitude is completely different. You become angry, full of rage, full of despair, suicidal, murderous, desperate, and you cycle between these feelings rapidly and frequently all night until you can achieve some sleep. Because I couldn't describe the nightmare of a night with a snorer during the day when the memories were dull and half forgotten, I decided one night to write down what it was like. It wasn't for publication, it was just to remind me during the day what the nights were like.

So I wrote it. And when I read it during the day, I was really surprised at how desperate and depressed it sounded. I was hoping to find this document and include it here, but it seems that sometime during the previous couple of years, I must have deleted it. Oh well.

I met Anne in January 1990. Later that year I got to find out about her sleeping habits. That was when I encountered a snorer for the first time in my life. Anne snored. We would fall asleep roughly at the same time, but I would be woken up a few hours later by the noise, and I would toss and turn fitfully for hours, until I would fall asleep from exhaustion just before I had to get up. I got very little sleep for a year.

I would be woken up at about 2:00am by the noise, and would have lots of time for thinking until I fell asleep again at about 6:00am. Those four hours gave me lots of time for thinking. I thought about whether I could bear to spend the rest of my life lying awake beside a snorer. I thought about just getting up and leaving and never coming back. I thought about murder. I thought about a lot of things that I wouldn't normally think of. It's the combination of a desperate lack of sleep, the unreal atmosphere of being awake at that time of night. I would think terrible thoughts, I would be desperately depressed, and then fall asleep at 6:00. When I got up two hours later, the world was totally different. Sunshine, normal day noises, no snoring, normality had returned. But those four sleepless hours were pretty terrible.

When I finally mentioned it to Anne, she was horrified. She knew she snored but hadn't realised it was so bad. I started getting out of bed and trying to find somewhere else in the unit to sleep. But no matter where I went, the noise kept me awake. This went on for months. We tried a few things. Anne bought a mouth guard type arrangement that fits in your mouth while you sleep, forcing you to breathe through your nose. She put it on one night, and within one minute she had it out again. She couldn't breathe through her nose. That was most of the problem. Her nasal passages are convoluted to the extreme and blocked. Then I read about a technique where you touch the snorer when they start snoring. This disturbs them slightly and they stop snoring. This technique works okay for a while, but it means that you get about sixty seconds of peace before the next rasp starts and you have to touch them again. If you can sleep in sixty second bursts, then it's fine.

Then I discovered that people didn't snore much when they lie on their side. So I tried various techniques to get Anne to roll one her side. When she started snoring, I would try and roll her over. Unfortunately, Anne likes to sleep in one, and only one, position. Flat on her back. In perfect snoring position. I would nudge her and try to get her to roll over. We even tried some hint from the Readers Digest where you sew a tennis ball into the back of the nightie so when she rolls on her back it's so uncomfortable she rolls back on her side. There were problems with this. First, wear a nightie. Second, it doesn't work on a waterbed. Eventually, I worked out the technique. When she started snoring, I would say quietly "Anne, roll over". And mostly she would roll over and the snoring would stop and I would get some sleep. Usually it takes about three or four of these prompts during the early part of the night before I could fall asleep, as Anne would keep falling back on her back and start snoring again.

During this period, we saw a film called The Abyss. There is a scene where the divorced hero and heroine are in a cabin at the bottom of the ocean. He starts snoring. She calls out from across the room "Roll over" and he automatically rolls over. That scene cracked us up. It was so realistic.

There are times when Anne is in a deep sleep, and when I tell her to roll over, she will ask "What?". I tell her to roll over and she asks "What?" again. This happens several times, before she finally rolls over all the way. She doesn't wake up. It's her subconscious doing the talking and it means that she's in a really comfortable position and she doesn't want to move. So her subconscious tries to talk its way out of moving. It will say "What?" several times, in the hope that I will give up. Then she will ignore me. At times like these, I just have to be insistent and add a bit of physical pressure to the command. I say "Roll over" and start pushing up under her shoulder. She usually gives in. There was one memorable occasion in our first year. I said "Anne, roll over." There was no response. I repeated the command with a slight nudge. Nothing. I repeated it again, and this time Anne said in a deep voice "Fuck off". This was unlike her voice, and she rarely swore in those days. I shot to the edge of the bed forming a makeshift crucifix with my fingers to ward off the demon that had possessed her, and I sat there all night confused and frightened. I really didn't know what was going on.

But anyway, I learnt what to do, and I suppose Anne got used to being commanded. It's a fairly common procedure nowadays. I tell her to roll over once or twice every night, and we both get some sleep.

Anne had an operation to reduce the snoring. She went to an ear-nose-throat surgeon about getting her nasal passages unblocked. The operation took about an hour, and the surgeon removed bits of bone, and lots of gristle and basically tried to straighten her nasal passages. It worked pretty well because it did reduce the snoring intensity. The operation was interesting because they used cocaine as an anaesthetic. Not only does it dull pain, but apparently it's excellent for reducing bleeding in the nose. So Anne got a small chunk of pure cocaine. Her mother was there when she woke up, and Evelyn said that Anne woke up and was feeling very very good, and she was talkative and alert and feeling very very happy. It wore off soon after though. She spent the next week with two plugs of cotton wool stitched into her nostrils. When she went to have them removed, she expected the surgeon would cut the stitches. Not so. He reached in with long-nosed pliers and just ripped each plug out, tearing the little stitches. He said it was the quickest and easiest way to do the job. As I said, it reduced the snoring.

Anne tells me that I am now getting my revenge. Now that I am older, and I've put on a bit more weight, I have started to snore. There have been occasions when I was half awake and I felt absolutely nothing. I felt that the world was peaceful and dead quiet, and then Anne nudges me and tells me that I'm snoring. It must be the same for her. Inside my head I can hear nothing, yet I am creating the most horrible noise known to mankind.

Anne tries to get me to roll over, but she hasn't learnt how to do it. I keep telling her, but she doesn't seem to understand. I've been on both sides of the snoring fence, and I know what she is doing wrong. She says to me "You're snoring." Now I'm only half awake, and I hear this and I can't hear any snoring, so I simply ignore her. Remember that I'm half asleep. If I am slightly less asleep, my mind turns over this information that I am snoring, decides that maybe I am, and that maybe I should do something about it, and then maybe I remember that I can stop it by rolling over, and then maybe I manage to roll over. If Anne said very simply "Roll over", I have no problems. It's an order, a very simple order. I roll straight over. There's no thought involved. I tell Anne again and again when she gets upset with my snoring (Hah!!!) that all she has to do is tell me to roll over. But she doesn't. She makes this accusative declaration "You're snoring" and expects me to do something about it. Maybe there is something to that silly book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. It contains a glossary of phrases that men use and what they mean to women, and phrases that women use and what they mean to men. I thought it was a bit silly at first, but there is this fundamental difference between men and women in what they say and how they say. The difference between "Roll over" and "You're snoring" is a good example. The first is a simple command to solve a problem. The second is an accusation with no offered solution. Men versus women.

If you are suffering from a snorer, you can avoid a lot of problems by following these simple rules.

  • Get rid of the snorer. Dump them, divorce them, lose them.
  • Sleep in separate rooms, with lots of sound-proofing. But this kills any chance of spontaneous sex, so it may not be a good thing, unless you are married, in which case it doesn't matter. (See Married Sex)
  • Get the snorer to lose weight. This will help a lot. The more overweight, the more chance of snoring. I don't know the technical reasons for this, but something gets soft and fat at the back of the mouth and it starts and enhances snoring.
  • Try earplugs. I do this at times and it certainly helps although it can get uncomfortable.
  • Don't let the snorer drink alcohol prior to sleeping. Don't let the snorer get drunk (unless you are very married - see Married Sex).
  • Don't let the snorer eat heavily too soon before going to bed.
  • Go to bed earlier than the snorer, or at the same time. Try to fall asleep before they do.
  • Touch the snorer when they start snoring. Just a light touch, flesh to flesh. They don't wake up, but it does disturb the snoring.
  • Give simple commands to get the snorer on their side. Use their name to get their attention. "Anne, (pause) roll over". If necessary, accompany this with very slight pressure on the arm or shoulder to guide them in rolling over. If they ignore you, or argue back in their sleep, or ask "Why?", do not engage in conversation. They are asleep. Conversation does not work. Just repeat the order, several times if necessary. They will roll over.
  • If all else fails, make a tape recording of the rasping and snoring. Play this to the snorer and convince them to see a specialist. Both of you should go to someone who specialise in sleep disorders, or sleep apnea, or snoring. Sleep apnea can be a big problem. It can reduce their lifespan. They could die in their sleep. You could get blamed for it. Seek medical attention. This could mean they sleep with an oxygen mask from then on, but it also means that everyone gets a good night's sleep.
  • Above all, don't give up hope and murder the snorer in their sleep. There are always options to reduce or stop the noise.

A Biker's Attitude To Snoring

[Commentary]

1989

from Animal Quack, Ozbike, Issue 52, 1989, in response to a request for a cure for snoring

You're a lucky man, George. After much research, I have discovered the perfect cure for snoring. In fact, this cure is so good, it fixes hiccups, insomnia, frigidity and restlessness. It ensures a solid night's sleep for both partners and I'll be damned if it don't make you feel good at the same time. It doesn't cost any money and can be implemented by just about everyone. But best of all, it works like a son-of-a-bitch.

Next time your little dove begins her nocturnal serenade, quietly slip out of the bed so you don't wake her, carefully climb onto the bedside table (if you have a wardrobe close at hand, then that's even better), carefully scan her sleeping body to ascertain exactly where her kidneys are (in most people they can be found in the soft waist region towards the spine), then leap towards the ceiling with all your strength (being careful not to knock yourself out) and plummet downwards with one of your knees extended (or both if he or she is a fatty), aiming directly for her kidneys. Always strive for maximum depth on impact.

Believe me, after you have implemented this fantastic and revolutionary cure just once, your partner will never snore in your presence again.

--Animal Quack