Tales from the Chief: In search of a quiet night's sleep
I've become painfully aware over that years that I snore, and apparently do so at volumes that on occasion can approach a particularly busy day at O'Hare Airport.
In the middle of the night, it's not unusual to be scolded awake by my wife's frustration-fueled voice..
"Roll over," she'll admonish me, no doubt hoping I won't put up a fight to her request. After all, there have been times when I've been dumb enough to offer a retort of something akin to "I wasn't sleeping," a clear indicator that my brain isn't firing on all cylinders because I was sleeping — or, I suppose, I'm an idiot.
I've become painfully aware over the years that I snore, and apparently do so at volumes that on occasion can approach a particularly busy day at O'Hare Airport. Both of my children, God bless them, have eavesdropped on one of my weekend afternoon siestas on the couch, recording me deep in slumber and full-on snore-storm. I can only hope these little videos haven't found their way on to TikTok or some other social media platform unbeknownst to a middle-aged geezer such as myself.
A few nights ago, my wife woke me again, but on this occasion there seemed to be a newfound sense of urgency in her voice. In retrospect, I wish I'd had the wherewithal to check if her skin was transforming to a greenish hue, as if she was Bruce Banner's female twin. I shudder — as I imagine most other men would — at the thought of sharing a bed with She-Hulk .
"Roll over," it was demanded of me. I immediately consented, and this time did so with a profound sense of guilt (and perhaps a small degree of fear for my life). If my snoring was bothering her this much, something finally had to be done.
I wound up securing a doctor's appointment for a couple of days later, wondering if I'd soon be the subject of a sleep study during which my snoring would be monitored in a way far different than my teenagers' imposing iPhones. Perhaps I'd wind up with a sleep machine , like my grandfather ended up getting after Grandma had finally had it with his sleep apnea (and they learned his snoring could actually be dangerous). Anything, it seemed, would be better than the Breathe Right strips that serve me little or no purpose right now, other than to seemingly peel another layer of skin off my nose each morning.
Of course, like any medical appointment, the proceedings began with the usual recording of weight and height. I had been delicately advised by my lovely spouse earlier that morning that weight loss could be a help in reducing my snoring, and while I didn't like hearing those words, I didn't dismiss them as out of hand. But, when the nurse informed me of my weight — after I had removed my winter coat and shoes, for fear of adding on a couple unnecessary pounds — I immediately lamented my frequent breakfasts of kids' cereals followed by large coffees with sweeteners and cream. I was at a depressing new threshold for personal poundage. If this trend continues, I thought, I'll be stepping on scales looking like a poor man's sumo wrestler. Not only do I not want to be that obese, but I don't want to feel like needing to wear only a mawashi on my doctor's scale.
After being informed of my ever-increasing girth, I was ushered into the doctor's office and subsequently asked a series of questions pertaining to my sleep quality and sleep patterns. No. I don't fall asleep while sitting in a chair, or at work, or while watching movies (except for, whatever random reason, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"). My cumulative score on this brief exam indicated I wasn't worthy of a sleep study. I suppose that's a good thing, but now what?
Apparently, I could be more of a mouth breather at night than a nose breather, which would explain why the nasal strips and very occasional blasts of nasal spray (yuck!) don't seem to make much of a difference. Instead, I was encouraged to try some sort of mouth apparatus that looks sort of like a newfangled retainer. Priced at $70, it's far cheaper than — say — a CPAP machine, and it sounds like more of a reasonable solution than something my wife found online. It seems there's a device you can wear on your wrist that detects your snoring and administers a small shock that gets you to roll over without waking you up. Even if a small shock is easier to absorb than my wife's ire, it still sounds dubious. ("Total BS," my doctor declared.)
We'll see how the next step in this snore-shrinking journey proceeds. In the meantime, I hope the subject matter of this column hasn't put you to sleep. Good night, everybody!