The Snoring Problem

It appears that once you’ve crossed the threshold of being halfway to dead, your talent for snoring improves dramatically. My own experience leads me to believe it’s a pipes problem. My food pipe seems to be narrowing while my air pipe is widening—so the cavern where these two pipes meet is an ever-widening open space.

Sometimes when my food enters this wide, open space, it gets confused about which chute it’s supposed to head into: down the food pipe, down the lung pipe, or up into my nose pipe. Consequently I have blown corn kernels out of my nose on more than one occasion, but so far only in a home setting. I am the only one in my family who thinks this is amazing. Everyone else throws down their fork and tells me I’m disgusting.

My point is: I can see how this ever-widening chasm of open space could lead to snoring.

The pipes-gone-awry theory is being proven at this very moment, because the noise erupting out of my sleeping husband’s throat rivals anything that comes out of a Harley-Davidson exhaust pipe.

Oh, let me clarify a point here. My husband does not want me to write about his snoring, so what you are about to read is fiction. Total fiction.

Right now I would love to feel sleepy because it is 1:21 a.m. and my alarm clock is set to go off in four hours and nine minutes. (I’ll spare you the math: that’s 5:30 a.m.) But I can’t enter the front door of Dreamland because my husband is snoring with such vigor that I do believe he’s burning more calories while asleep than he does when he’s awake. No wonder he’s so hungry in the morning.

He didn’t used to snore this majestically. He used to make sweet little huffle-puffle sounds sometimes when we were younger, but once he turned fifty, he became the Pavarotti of snoring. At this very moment, thirty-foot-tall waves of garbled air are rolling out of the deep, dark moors of his throat. Tumultuous, tempestuous tsunamis of wet sounds, almost like he has a hurricane stuck in his windpipe.

Maybe I should close the window so that he doesn’t wake up the neighbors. Or their nine-month-old baby who sleeps through the night.

If I fall asleep within the next minute, I will get exactly four hours and two minutes of sleep before my alarm goes off.

Ah! His symphony has reached its crescendo and is now subsiding into its interlude of large, wounded animal heavy-breathing sounds. This type of snore does not rage at full tidal volume. It rumbles and grouses as it tries to capture a more voluminous air current—but alas, no luck!—and so a wannabe snore slinks off into nothingness.

Slinks off into nothingness and reemerges as a hair-raising roar on the back of my neck, that is! Criminy, where did that come from? It’s given me a minor adrenaline rush that should set me back another ten minutes. If I didn’t know it was my husband in bed next to me, I’d swear it was the great Godzilla. Oh, that’s so, so mean to say, I know. I know! But this is fiction, remember? Yes, it is fiction.

Okay, I just kicked him gently in his calf with the back of my foot, hoping to reboot him into a more normal breathing pattern. Hooray! Success!

Oh, no! Now he’s not breathing at all! It’s like I’ve hit the off switch when all I wanted was to dial it down to normal breathing. How long should I wait before I shake him to make sure I haven’t kicked him into apnea?

Nope, no need to worry. The Lion King has returned at full throttle. Forget a gentle kick in the calf—he sounds like he needs an exorcist. Even our dog is getting up and moving to a different part of the house to sleep.

If I fall asleep right now, I will get exactly three hours and fifty-seven minutes of sleep before my alarm goes off.

Wait a second! He’s waking up!

“You’re snoring really loudly, honey,” I tell him. Boy, I sure let him have it!

“I have to go the bathroom,” he mumbles in response.

Dear God, please let me fall asleep during this bathroom intermission, because if I do, I will get exactly three hours and fifty-four minutes of sleep before my alarm goes off. I know this interlude. He won’t snore when he returns to bed.

Whoever thought I’d be saved by an enlarged prostate?

To be fair, my husband tells me I snore like a rhino blaster. It’s a term he invented, but I’d say it hits the mark in terms of descriptiveness. Not that I’d know, because I’m asleep. My snoring kicked in when I turned fifty, but apparently I’m on an accelerated learning curve.

My husband’s method of dealing with my snoring is to wake me up in a loud, commanding voice that’s loaded with irritation: “Marcianne! Turn over! You’re snoring!”

What will then irritate him to an even greater degree is my unfailingly chipper response: “Oh, was I? I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Sometimes I will begin snoring again less than one minute after I’ve turned over. Or so he says. I don’t know if it’s really true, because frankly I’m sleeping through the entire exchange, and his voice appears as a recurring dream sequence.

In the morning, however, he gives me the full snore report, mimicking the various noises I made throughout the night that kept him awake, and jeesh! I sound like a parched zombie with a fur ball. Unlike him, I sound like I have no mucus in my entire body.

To make him happy, though, I agreed to try one of those strips you put across your nose to prevent snoring. It was hard to put the thing on because I was wearing a wrist brace at the time due to a flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome. When I emerged from the bathroom wearing my night guard (to prevent teeth clenching), my wrist brace, and now this strip across my nose—well, let’s just say I felt like I should have been wearing satin boxing shorts for pajamas. I looked like I was dressed for going to the mat—not the mattress.

It was an unfair fight, though. That little strip across my nose was no match for what I’m capable of in the snoring department. I fear now the only truly effective treatment would be to have my throat and lungs removed.

And that scene highlights the root of the snoring problem.

Because as we get older, the warranty is up on certain body parts and bodily functions . . . and we adapt. We start wearing glasses to improve our eyesight, we start making lists to help our memory, we start learning how to clench our buttocks tightly to prevent public gas emissions. These are our problems and we deal with them.

But snoring isn’t the snorer’s problem. It’s the awake person’s problem. I know from personal experience that the snorer is stratospheres away from earthly concerns—until the awake person kicks you in the calf.

So I think product development to alleviate the snoring problem is aimed at the wrong customer. Instead of focusing on how to get us to stop snoring, inventors should focus on how to get the awake person back to sleep.

And so for now I bid you good night. I hope.