Sixth Slice: Snoring

Today I have two goals for this post.

The first is to write what I’ve come to think of as the “classically defined Slice of Life,” a small but vivid moment from my current life.  I’ll try not to fall too far down the rabbit hole of memory, but things in the present have a way of connecting to things in the past.  I’ll do my best.

The second goal is to wrap up the Slice before lunch.   Yesterday was a snow day, and I wrote for hours and hours.  That’s not a horrible thing, especially since today is another snow day, but I have planning  to do, books to read, bills to pay. I want to call my mother, and answer a friend’s email.

I have a hard time falling asleep at night and a hard time waking up in the morning.  Writing is like that for me.  I have a hard time sitting down and getting started, but once I have started, I have a hard time bringing things to a close.

Enough preamble.  Here’s the Slice:

Ed, my husband, snores.  I understand that people snore.  I haven’t heard myself snoring, and I’m told I didn’t when I was young and fit, but now that I’m middle-aged and what Alexander McCall Smith calls “traditionally built,” I have no problem believing that I snore.

I don’t believe that I snore like Ed.  I’ve never heard anyone snore like Ed.  I went to camp, I’ve slept in hostels, and I come from a large family.   I’ve heard plenty of samples.

I’ll admit that the way my father snored when I was a teenager and he was in his fifties might have been louder than the way Ed snores now.  When I was a growing up, my parents’ bedroom was next to mine.  My father’s snores were so loud and so sonorous, that not only could they wake me from a deep sleep, but they would rattle the doors of the IKEA wardrobe that was against the adjoining wall.

My father retired young, at 59, when I was a junior in high school.  He started working out.  His snoring improved a little.  About five years ago, he was diagnosed with sleep apnea and fitted for a CPAP.  My mom says he still stores, but not as badly, and he doesn’t do that thing where he wakes up in the night gulping for air.

I’ve suggested to my husband that he go for a sleep study, but really, I don’t think he has sleep apnea.  He bounds out of bed in the morning, and he doesn’t nod off during the day.  Most importantly, I never hear him stop breathing in the night, and I have had time to listen.

I try to go to bed before Ed.  If I’m sound asleep before he starts snoring, it won’t always wake me up.  If it does, I can often groggily twist in some ear plugs and fall back asleep.

Yesterday was a snow day, and I was off my routine.  I’d gotten the robocall announcing that school would be closed today as well, so I wasn’t thinking about sleep until my husband announced that he was ready for bed.

I dashed to the guest bath, where I keep a spare toothbrush, and skipped washing my face, but Ed was already in bed.  There was no way I was going to fall asleep first.  We talked for a few minutes and then the snoring started.

Ed’s snoring is loud, but that’s not all it is.  Each snore goes on for an unusually long time and contains a variety of distinct sounds at different volumes–snort, snuffle, grumble, sigh.  There is only the briefest pause between snores.   It’s generally only those four sounds.  Sometimes I’m able to tune them out, but then, inexplicably, he’ll change up the order or raise the volume, and that will jar me awake.

Last night, I lay in bed listening to him snore.  I jammed in my earplugs so tightly they made my ear canals hurt.  I could still hear him.  I tried to sleep.  I couldn’t.  I decided to speak.

“You’re snoring in my ear.”

He scooted farther away and changed position slightly.  The snoring restarted.

Sometimes getting him to turn over helps, but waking him up is not a card I want to play more than once a night.  I knew he had to go to work today and I did not.  I considered my options.

If I waited awhile, until he was in a deep sleep, I could try rubbing his head. This trick works well in the middle of the night, when his snoring wakes me up.  If he is in a deep enough sleep, the head rubbing won’t wake him fully, but it will prompt him to stop snoring for at least a few minutes and buy me enough time to fall back asleep.   I wondered how long I would have to wait–20 minutes?  An hour?  I also considered that even if I did get him to stop snoring for a few minutes, it probably wouldn’t be long enough for me to fall asleep for the first time of the night–falling back asleep is almost always way easier for me.

I tried to sleep.  I got close a few times, but then there’d be a pattern change, or a brief surge in volume, and then I’d be fully awake again.

I could go to the guest room or I could take a pill.  The pill would make me groggy in the morning.   The guest room would be cold.  Ed turns the thermostat down to 62 at night, and that room is somehow always colder than the rest of the apartment.   We don’t have flannel sheets for the guest bed.  It doesn’t have a heavy comforter.   I thought of the last time I had gone to the guest room, how I had shivered against the icy sheets.

Ed continued to snore.  I tried to fall asleep.

I couldn’t.

I decided to take a pill.

I tiptoed into the bathroom and gulped down the medicine with a handful of water scooped from the faucet.  As I gingerly climbed back into bed, Ed stirred.  He rolled over.  I listened to him fall back asleep, confident that the pill would let me fall asleep no matter what kind of snores he started to produce.  His breathing was deep and easy.

He did not snore.

5 thoughts on “Sixth Slice: Snoring

  1. Oh man, the dreaded snore. I’ve heard some doozies and my husband can at times be right up there, but usually not so bad it keeps me awake. I guess I better consider myself lucky, right?


  2. Your writing is so descriptive! I could literally see you rush around during this sentence: I dashed to the guest bath, where I keep a spare toothbrush, and skipped washing my face, but Ed was already in bed.


  3. I was the snorer in my household! Unladylike as it is, I had to accept that fact after a definitive sleep study about five or six years ago. I have slept with a sleep apnea machine ever since, and can no longer sleep without it. The machine has even traveled to Europe with me! I recommend that your husband go for that sleep study even though you don’t think he suffers from sleep apnea At least that will rule it out, and you can focus on other causes. The other solution is to sleep in separate bedrooms. My husband and I do, and so do my son and his girlfriend in their apartment. Everyone gets a good night’s sleep! Nice piece of writing…good luck!


  4. I could totally relate to this piece! My husband snores, too, and like you I have done earplugs, told him he’s snoring, resorted to the guest room (which is also cold and I like my mattress better), taking a pill and risking waking up groggy, etc. Tonight I will try the head rub!!!
    Nice description!


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