I recently awoke to find my husband gone from my bed. It was an enormous turning point in our relationship: I’d driven him to the couch.
I am a snorer. A bad one. It’s taken me a long time to own up to it. I didn’t believe it when it was described to me as a “raspy, wet gargling noise” – a ridiculous exaggeration if there ever was one. To be honest, I never really took any of my husband’s complaints about it seriously. Surely it was only loud breathing at best.
Only when he made the effort to actually record it on his phone did I come around to his point of view: that it was every bit as terrifying as he described. I wasn’t hearing myself; I was hearing some huge wounded creature.
I was aghast. How had he been putting up with that for so many years? And how had I so casually brushed aside his complaints?
I realised he was not being paranoid. Every breath truly did sound as if it could be the last. All too often I would be in a peaceful slumber, leaving him lying awake, sick with the worry about what might happen if that strained breathing simply stopped. Even if the snoring subsided, the adrenaline of that panic could easily keep him awake another hour.
More and more often, he would begin the next day tireder; grumpier; more prone to error or frustration. I was robbing him of the sleep he needed to bring out his best. Meanwhile, I was so well-rested I just couldn’t relate to that morning grumpiness.
It’s no wonder that he finally finally made the call one night, somewhere around the 1am mark, to get out of bed and finish his night’s rest on the couch. It was there I found him the following morning, sleeping more peacefully than I’d seen him in years.
It was this point – realising he was better off away from me – that I realised that my snoring was actively getting in the way of an otherwise-happy marriage.
Until that point, I had felt helpless. It hardly seemed fair to be blamed for something I had no control over. But this marked a turning point: where I got to say “no more”; where my snoring became a problem we could work together to solve.
It’s early days yet, but so far, this change in attitude has made an enormous difference to us both.
We’re working our way through a list of increasingly elaborate external aids – the decongestants, the “snoring strips”, even anti-snoring caps. They work for some, but I haven’t had much luck.
It should be demoralising, but it feels like for every idea that doesn’t work, we’re taking a step closer to something that does. And each time, that step has a little more skip.
I’m working now on sleeping more on my side – hugging a pillow seems to help. I hear a tennis ball stitched into the pyjamas can help discourage rolling back onto your back, but I’d rather leave this to a last resort!
While an overnight hospital stay eased our fears of sleep apnea, my GP hasn’t ruled out using a dedicated breathing device. A month ago it would have seemed preposterous, but now I know the wellbeing of my best friend is at stake as well, I think I’m willing to try anything.
Has snoring affected your relationship? Was it your partner’s, or your own? What treatment has worked best for you?