Restless Nights

June 28, 2010

There has been a lot said and written about how to deal with a bedmate who snores, almost all of which is pure hornswaggle, hogwash, tosh, piffle and poppycock. “Sew a cotton reel into the back of his pyjamas,” say the grannies, to which everyone who isn’t a granny will reply, “What the hell are pyjamas?” Perhaps in some forgotten corner of the globe there is a sweatshop in which innocent polyesters are slaughtered and their remains converted into these useless garments, but I certainly haven’t seen any offered for sale for a long time. When I was a small boy at boarding school we had to wear these things, but as soon as the lights were out, I would remove mine and sleep naked as nature intended. “If he sleeps on his back, close off his nose and cover his mouth so he can’t breathe, then he’ll turn onto his side and stop snoring.” Or die of asphyxiation. Can you do all that and stay asleep, in any case? The whole point of a solution to this problem is that the non-snoring partner must be able to stay asleep while the solution is put into effect, thereby getting a refreshing night’s rest.

Scallywag, the light in my darkness and the balm of my soul, swam shnoz first into the side of a swimming pool when she was a little girl. A botched nose-straightening operation means that today she breathes through her mouth and the sounds she makes in the night closely resemble the sounds a C130 Hercules makes at full take-off power. I suffered many nights of tattered and torn sleep; nights spent in the spare room in a last-ditch attempt to stave off total exhaustion before I hit upon the solution.

I realised I had been looking at the problem from entirely the wrong angle. The snorer will snore regardless of what is done to her, short of murder. The solution lies in taking steps such that the non-snorer won’t care that the snorer snores, and there are two routes that may be chosen. The first is drugs—a narcotic of strength sufficient to render the taker insensible to the ambient uproar, or a mechanical barrier that will mute any sounds falling on the ear of the non-snorer. The first solution has obvious drawbacks in that it may cause permanent addiction, and may adversely effect performance on the following day. So I chose the second solution.

And here it is. Two small words that can save a marriage: ear plugs. These come in three types: mouldable wax, soft foam and flexible rubber. I tried the wax ones for a while, and although they have excellent sound-dampening properties, they aren’t very comfortable. Eventually I settled on the foam variety, which are so comfortable you don’t even know you’re wearing them until someone speaks to you and they look like a fish in an aquarium, mouth opening and closing, but no sound emerging therefrom. These can be quite expensive if you buy them in your local pharmacy or chemist or drugstore, but they can be ordered in bulk online for a very reasonable price. Two hundred pairs lasts me about three years because they can be used several times before they lose their elasticity and hence their effectiveness.

Scallywag is deaf, which is quite a major drawback because when we retire for the night she takes out her hearing aid and I put my ear plugs in, which means neither of us can hear very much. Robbers could break in and make off with all our treasured possessions without either of us hearing a thing. But that is a risk I am prepared to take if the alternative is a shattered relationship or being fired for sleeping at the office.

Creative Commons License
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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