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Don's report archive

by Donald B. Ardell, Ph. D.
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Wellness in the Headlines
(Don's Report to the World)

What To Do If Someone Next To You Snores and Why You Should Do It!

Friday March 12, 2004

One of the best ways to promote your chances of being a healthy person is to condition yourself to worry less about the behaviors of other people. If you spend time and energy trying to persuade others to dress, vote, worship or otherwise behave as you do, stop it! Very few people are likely to change their attire, vote or religion (if they have or want one) or otherwise carry on to suit you, so stop annoying people and stressing yourself needlessly.

A wonderful column in the New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof entitled "Marriage: Mix and Match" (March 3, 2004) concluded in this vein. Suggesting that marital norms can change over time (using the example of the infamous but once common miscegenation laws, Kristof advises that "the best way to preserve the sanctity of American marriage is for us all to spend less time fretting about other people's marriages -- and more time improving our own."

All of which leads me to snoring!

It's one thing to not annoy other people by insisting on their rights to hear YOUR opinions, or to live their lives the way YOU think they should live. It is quite another to be annoyed by other people.This is, as Churchill famously noted, "an impertinence up with which you should not put."

What then should you do if your bedmate snores? What are the alternatives to laying there, putting up with the incredibly disturbing grunts and snorts and other alien-sounding, often grotesque sounds emanating from your wife, husband, lover or whomever happens to be unconscious and making a racket next to you? What are the more adaptive behaviors not involving mayhem or divorce that are in your interests if not the best interests of your bedmate?

To answer this rhetorical question, let's look at the main findings of a few recent studies documenting the hazards of snoring. (Some of this information was summarized in a recent NY Times piece entitled "Dangers of Second-Hand Snoring: When Bedtime Is a Health Hazard," November 18, 2003.) But first, just for fun, let's recall what Mark Twain wrote about snoring on two separate occasions: "A use has been found for everything but snoring" (Notebook May 1892-Jan 1893) and "There aint no way to find out why a snorer cant' hear himself snore" (Tom Sawyer Abroad).

Snoring, although the subject of attempted humor, is no laughing matter to bedmates of snorers, particularly from a health perspective. Sleeping (or trying to sleep) next to a snorer puts one at higher risk for hearing losses (snoring can reach sound levels as high as 90 to 120 decibels, the sound equivalent of "sleeping next to an industrial machine for ten or fifteen years), pain symptoms and fatigue. When the snorer has sleep apnea (a condition marked by loud snoring and episodes of interrupted breathing--a condition linked to obesity), these symptoms are more severe. A study at the Mayo Clinic revealed that spouses of snorers waked on average 21 times an hour (versus 27 times snorers themselves were awakened by their distressed respiration). Adding fiscal injury to bodily distress, the basic condition of snoring is not even a reimbursable medical item for insurance purposes! Consequently, many problems go unattended and underreported.

Now that you appreciate the problem, the need for taking steps, even drastic steps if it has to come to that, in order to end the annoyance can be appreciated. Some may jeopardize your relationship with the snorer--make changes anyway! Some will lead to added costs, inconveniences, dislocations, recriminations or other unpleasantries--make changes anyway! Here are my recommendations. Not all will apply for everybody--some may not apply to ANYBODY, but if one or more of these tips seem promising, by all means "seize the day" and give them a try!

While it is always a good policy to worry less and not involve yourself in efforts to change the behaviors of others, this does not apply to the person next to you in bed every night--especially if he or she snores! Good luck, be well, sleep soundly and look on the bright side of life.

Domain: physical
Subdomain: lifestyle habits

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