No jury in the world would ever convict me is a recurrent thought while being kept awake at night by your spouse who snores. It seems particularly bitter when you consider that it is their sleeping that is keeping you awake. Homicidal fantasies abound.
A good deal of the frustration the non-snorer feels is due to the realization that their snoring spouse isn’t doing it on purpose. If you wake them and ask them to stop, they will often apologize for keeping you awake. But then, ten minutes later, when they’re back to snoring and you’re still awake, that apology seems ironic and cruel.
2:00AM (or 3, or 4, or 5) is not the time to discuss the matter, but discuss it you must. It is important that the snorer view their behavior as a problem for the both of you and not simply shrug and say lamely, I can’t help it. There are several options available that address the problem. Many snorers snore when they are sleeping on their backs and are quieter when sleeping on either side. I found one tip that suggested sewing a sock on the rear collar of your pajama tops or a tee-shirt and inserting a tennis ball into the sock. This will help prevent you from settling on your back even when not fully awake.
Another tip is to elevate your head about fifteen degrees above your shoulders to help keep your air passages open; this can be accomplished by carefully arranging your pillows.
One common solution to snoring is to sleep in different rooms. While this is an effective way to deal with the noise issue, it creates problems of its own involving intimacy and the comfort and security of physical contact. It also reinforces the sense of alienation that is probably already manifesting itself between you.
The non-snorer has to vent their anger and frustration before sitting down to discuss matters with their spouse. Nagging, getting angry, hostile or sarcastic is only going to drive the wedge further between you. You need to firmly but gently elicit the snorer’s cooperation in dealing with the problem. The snorer can help by manifesting concern and understanding for their spouse’s plight, not just pleading unconsciousness. Even though the snorer is asleep, there is a lot they can do beforehand to help break the cycle of snoring.
Snorers should avoid eating heavy meals and caffeine for two hours prior to bedtime. The same goes for consuming alcohol or using sedatives. Having regular sleeping habits may help. Quitting smoking, losing weight and getting some exercise are not only helpful in combating snoring, but are in themselves good healthful lifestyle practices.
Sometimes snoring isn’t snoring at all, but sleep apnea, a chronic and potentially dangerous obstruction of the air passages. By all means, consult your physician if the condition persists. People who snore often feel reluctant to seek medical assistance for their condition out of a sense of shame or embarrassment. Snoring is a physical condition, just like a broken bone or a pulled muscle; treat it accordingly.
This same sense of embarrassment or shame may also explain why snorers, particularly men, have a difficult time taking their spouse’s complaints seriously. A guy is more inclined to judge himself as weak or incompetent over not being able to sleep quietly; his ubiquitous male pride gets involved. This is when it is helpful to consider that it is not him who is being called into question, but the medical condition that he happens to suffer from. Don’t take your spouse’s complaints and frustrations personally.
It is estimated that there are over 37 million adult Americans who are chronic snorers, so you are not alone. If you view the snoring as a problem the two of you have together and approach finding a solution as a team, you’re chances of success are much better.
Some couples employ a sleep diary, where the non-snoring spouse keeps track of the snoring behavior of the snorer. On a night when snoring occurs you can review what took place prior to retiring for the evening, particularly what was eaten or drunk. By doing the same when snoring does not occur, you may, by working together, isolate the specific causes of the snoring.
I once (a long time ago) lived with a girl who snored; one night I discovered, quite by accident, that if I touched her and maintained physical contact, her snoring would immediately cease. So try to be playful and creative in finding ways to ease the problem you have together. As with so many issues you have as a couple, if you approach them with mutual respect and understanding, love and compassion, it may actually serve to bring you closer together instead of driving you further apart.
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