Published 5:40 am Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Snoring makes good background noise
I've often heard people complain that they are kept awake by a snoring spouse, or that the problem is so bad they sleep in a separate bedroom.
I have the opposite problem.
I'm so accustomed to the sometimes-not-so-quiet hum of my husband's snoring that I often wake up when he stops.
It's not unusual for him to be sleeping soundly and snoring steadily when I stop reading and turn out the lights. Doesn't bother me a bit. Some people listen to music to fall asleep, I listen to snoring.
Because I listen to the rhythm, I also know that he has sleep apnea. Two separate sleep studies over a period of years have confirmed my diagnosis.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These episodes, called apneas, each last long enough so one or more breaths are missed, and occur repeatedly throughout sleep.
Because the sleep of those who suffer apnea is interrupted often, they are often tired or sleepy during the day. Most become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance.
Typically, the disorder is treated with lifestyle changes, surgery, or with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machine.
This case isn't serious enough for surgery, and besides, it's said to be very painful. Our friend Jack threatened to kill his doctor when he woke up from the surgery. Honey really didn't like the idea of a mask and a machine. Despite reports from friends that CPAP machines had changed their lives, he was reluctant.
I'm not sure why he changed his mind, but I think it was my fault. Last week I woke up from a deep sleep, wondering what had awakened me. Then I realized it. Honey wasn't snoring and if he was breathing, it was very quietly.
I reached out to touch him and found an arm that felt cold. Alarmed, I lifted the arm to feel for a pulse. Of course, he was fine.
But when he asked me the next morning why I was taking his pulse in the middle of the night, he was a little more interested in a CPAP.
Thursday, his machine was delivered. I went home at lunch to see it and wondered how anyone could sleep with the mask strapped to his face. By the time I put the paper to bed Thursday night, Honey was fast asleep and the machine was mimicking the rhythm of his usual snores.
So far, he hates it. He says he woke up often because the mask was bothering him. Sometime in the wee hours, he gave up and turned the machine off. I'll admit, I slept much better when he did.
But I suspect we'll both get accustomed to the machine soon enough. Perhaps it'll even come to sound as musical as snoring.
Michele Gerlach is the publisher and editor of The Andalusia Star-News.