Folks, I haven’t slept since high school.
Like, really slept. Good, quality, consistent sleep. Eight-ten hours a night, no interruptions, blissful peace, counting sheep, eyes rolling back mid REM cycle. The kind when you wake the next day, you feel no task is impossible. You grab your cape, fly off, and prepare to tackle the evilest of villains and scoff at defeat.
I can’t recall the last time I actually felt rested. I’ve been running on fumes for as long as I could set my own bedtime. In high school, I took all honors and AP classes. Pair that with activities like debate team, basketball, student council, and jobs, and I found myself powering through each day on roughly four hours of sleep and a LOT of Mountain Dew.
Then college came and my sleep deprivation just kept on rolling. With six classes a semester, two-three part-time jobs, a relationship, and a wedding to plan, sleep was the subject of my wildest dreams.
I had a brief respite of two years after college and marriage where I got a taste for the Zzzzs that had escaped me for the last seven years. But it was short-lived. Never one to “rest” for long, I traded in my sleepy Saturday mornings for grad school and two pregnancies. And any mother will tell you, those nine months prepping for baby were really just a crash course in how to survive as a coffee-powered, blood-shot zombie.
As babies, my kiddos were terrible sleepers. Both of them suffered from acid reflux and ear infections (C required tubes - a lifeline for surviving our evenings). Neither of them seemed to understand that you could actually sleep past 5:30 and that it was highly encouraged. And for some reason, for the first three years of their existence, they decided to work together to utterly obliterate any shreds of sleep we desired: they coordinated their waking times by not coordinating. One would wake at 11, the other at midnight. And they’d alternate until the sun came up and none of us had slept a wink. Even as they grew older, my son experienced night terrors and even some fun bouts of sleepwalking. Our evenings were rarely quiet and usually quite eventful. And through it all, I somehow managed to avoid a coffee addiction.
Fast forward to now. Approaching middle school and puberty, the phase of life I’ve been eagerly waiting for this last decade has finally arrived!
Sleep, glorious sleep!
They’re starting to sleep in (7-8, but hell, I’ll take it!) and only wake in the middle of the night if they’re about to yak and need to hug the toilet or a bowl.
Enter Anthony. Dear, sweet Anthony. For all of his stellar qualities and the reasons I love him, I have spent many a night staring at his beautiful face and long eyelashes, thoughts of smothering him with a pillow crossing my mind more than a few times.
The man snores. But this is not the dainty noise made by woodland creatures nestled in their beds for the night. No, no, no. This is the mating call of a moose. This is the foghorn warning all incoming boats. This is a wild boar huffing before it attacks. He’s somehow managed to combine a loud snore with a snarfle, as I refer to it. He takes in air and somehow gargles it before seemingly choking on it, swallowing, and then beginning the process all over.
Now, it’s not often his snoring prevents me from falling asleep. I go so hard during the day that the minute my head hits the pillow, I’m out like that Russian dude in the Rocky movies. BUT. His snoring does wake me mid-Sleeping Beauty status, and once that happens, well… you try falling asleep in the midst of a freight train running through your bedroom, horns blaring.
I know I’m not alone in sharing the bed with someone who’s less than quiet when they sleep. But I was curious what the actual number was. So I did some digging.
According to the American Sleep Association (ASA), more than 50 million adult Americans have a sleeping disorder and more than 48% of us report sounding the alarm while we doze.
The ASA also reports that the typical adult needs somewhere between 7-9 hours of nightly sleep and that more than 37% of us between the ages of 20 and 39 report sleeping only for short periods of time, with more than 35% of adults getting less than the recommended seven hours of nightly sleep.1
So if I’m getting this right, I require a lot of sleep, but function on very little (roughly 4-5 hours a night), and am splitting my king-size oasis with someone who serenades me nightly with sounds that nearly half the population makes?
OK, so what’s happening at my house is clearly not an anomaly here. But what the hell do we do about it? Cause I’m not ready to give up what I’ve been chasing and has successfully evaded me for the better part of my adult life.
I’ve already attempted the tried and true suggestions: turn him over, wake him, punch him in the arm, hold his nose, pinch his side, fake snore back at him, throw the dog at his face, get out of the bed, make enough obvious noise to throw him off his soundtrack, take blackmail videos of said snoring episodes to guilt him. We’ve tried the Breathe Right strips - he rips them off at some point mid-sleep cycle, creating a scavenger hunt for me the next morning when I try to locate it in the bed.
I really don’t want to do the whole separate sleeping quarters thing. I’m 35 and it took me three years to find someone to snuggle up next to nightly. And I mean, there are some definite benefits to having him there. For example, he’s a great space heater in the winter months, especially for someone like me who’s always cold. And he sleeps closest to the door, so if we are attacked in the middle of the night… well, he’s the first line of defense. Good luck babe! And the back rubs that lull me to sleep are awfully nice. Not to mention the easy access to sex whenever the mood strikes (typically before the snoring commences). And who are we kidding, with four kids in the house, there are no more beds to scoot him off to (I sure as hell am not giving up mine!). The couch, while also comfortable and large, is his only other option. Also not ideal, also a non-negotiable in my relationship playbook.
In the next few months, we plan to merge our households into one. And the idea of never sleeping through the night again (save for solo trips away) has me hell-bent on finding a solution.
So those of you who have a bit more experience with a Deep Sleeper, I’m begging you for whatever you got. Best tips, tricks, advice, suggestions, doctors, articles, etc. to look into. What’s my next step here? Cause I love my man and I love having him nearby and in no way am I giving that up. But I’m also about to go buy stock in Melatonin and Zzzzquil and call it a night.
1 ASA Authors & Reviewers Sleep Physician at American Sleep Association Reviewers and WritersBoard-certified sleep M.D. physicians. (n.d.). Sleep statistics: Data about sleep disorders. American Sleep Association. Retrieved May 16, 2022, from https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/sleep-statistics/