The rumbling woke me from a sound sleep. Blearily, I glanced at the clock – 5:30. I sighed. Saturdays are for sleeping in.
Then came the roaring.
I nudged Derek gently with my knee. The sound grew louder.
I jabbed him in the ribs and said, “Roll over or I’ll never get back to sleep!”
He said, “I AM on my side! That is a THUNDERSTORM!”
Sure enough, lightning illuminated his assertion. After 27 years of sleeping with a snorer, my confusion was understandable.
You’d think I would’ve built up some kind of tolerance or immunity over the years. After all, my grandfather, father and brothers all snored.
As a child I found the novelty of my grandparents’ separate bedrooms fascinating. When I asked my mom why they didn’t share a room she said, “Grandpa snores, and Grandma is a light sleeper.”
A few years later they came for a visit and stayed in the guest bedroom above me. I have never before or since heard such a nighttime racket. Grandpa’s snores weren’t the low rumbling and snorting my dad produced when he napped in his chair. Instead, he emitted a high-pitched keening whine that even a pillow over my head couldn’t muffle.
None of us slept that night. Except Grandpa, of course.
When Derek and I married I didn’t have too much trouble adjusting to the sound of his snores. I discovered the key was to fall asleep first. Once I’m asleep it takes an awful lot to wake me.
But a few things have changed over the years. Namely, his snores have gotten louder and I’ve started sleeping lighter. Not a good combination.
Like many snorers Derek denies his nighttime vocalizations. “It’s not that bad,” he says. “You should hear my brother.”
He should know not to challenge a writer who keeps a digital recorder on her bedside table. The next night I recorded his somnolent symphony.
“That recorder’s rigged,” he said. But he did agree to try breathing strips. Supposedly, if you place the strips over the bridge of your nose, they widen your breathing capacity and reduce snoring.
Happily, we both quickly fell asleep the first night he tried them. But I awoke sometime in the night to hear him snoring as loudly as ever.
The mystery was solved in the morning when I discovered the breathing strip had become dislodged in the night and was firmly anchored to Derek’s eyebrow.
My sister-in-law understands my plight. She ordered some kind of breathing mask for her husband. She’d seen it advertised on a late-night infomercial. She was watching late-night infomercials because she couldn’t sleep. Guess why?
We will never know if it might’ve worked because her husband declined to wear a mask while sleeping.
My dad had sleep apnea and so does my sister, but fortunately, Derek doesn’t. I say fortunately because my sister now sleeps with a C-PAP machine. The mask that comes with the machine looks pretty scary. I imagine it would be like waking up to a fighter pilot ready to soar in high altitudes. Not relaxing.
I keep a pair of earplugs next to the bed and in times of desperation, I wear them. The drawback being I often miss my alarm if I leave them in all night.
Fluffing my pillow, I listened to the thunderstorm and tried to fall back to sleep. I found myself thinking about my dad. The night he died I came home from the hospital with my mom. I lay down beside her as we both tried to sleep. All I could think of was how was she ever going to get used to sleeping alone – in silence?
The memory brought tears. Rolling over, I pressed myself against my sleeping husband. The storm had passed and Derek softly snored. Suddenly, I didn’t care if I slept, I just felt profoundly thankful he was next to me, noise and all.
If occasional sleeplessness is the price for love, I’ll gladly pay.