This week we move away from the physical aspects of the bedroom to the more emotional aspects of the bedroom.
What happens when you meet a partner and you get on brilliantly when you're awake, but terribly when you're asleep? One of you sleeps like a baby as soon as your head hits the pillow and the other snores really loudly or is a bit of a night owl, preferring to pace around at night or watch movies on the Internet.
In the first months of meeting my husband Oliver, I was giddy from the sheer miracle of finding each other and ignored the fact that I was being sleep-deprived. However, around the six-month mark, I began to realize that his snoring and inability to sleep well was giving me a direct experience of the torture tactics that they use in Guantanomo Bay.
Studies estimate that 45% of men and 30% of women snore on a regular basis and that can lead to huge problems in a relationship, marital disharmony and sometimes even to divorce and it's not only the non-snorer that ends up not sleeping, both of you do. Sleep deprivation can leave you both feeling really irritable, unable to think straight during the day and resentful. It's at this point that the bedroom can become a battleground and a place of total disharmony. (Regardless of the physical layout. See the last two weeks' tips.)
For some reason, the 'how do you sleep?' subject is a bit of a taboo conversation and it shouldn't be. There are many solutions that can actually bring you closer together. But first you have to be a bit of a detective to find out what the source of the problem is and find the remedy that works for you.
TIP 1. Don't deny that you snore, if your partner says you do, it's very unlikely that they are making it up. Instead of being defensive and taking it personally, look for the cure that works for you both as quickly as possible. You don't want a break down in the relationship; it's not worth it! If you insist that your non-snoring partner tapes you, so that you have proof, then so be it. But once they have proved it, move on to finding a solution.
TIP2. If you are a selective snorer, i.e. you don't snore every night, it might be that you snore when you eat something that you're allergic to for dinner, e.g. dairy. Many people are actually allergic to dairy products, but because they don't have an extreme reaction are unaware of it. However, if you find that your nose blocks up after you eat anything with dairy in it, then that means you're having an allergic reaction. So, at night, no more cheese, no butter, no creamy deserts, no yogurt and no ice cream! You can always substitute rice or soy products and see what happens.
TIP 3. Drinking alcohol at night can also really can cause snoring. If you can stop then great, however, if on reading this, your first thought was "You're mad woman, it's completely out of the question!" Then try to discover which alcohol makes you snore and how much. You might find that you're fine with a glass of white wine, but not so fine with red wine.
TIP 4: Try to avoid eating a heavy meal within three hours of going to sleep. You could be intolerant to certain foods which can cause inflammation and a narrowing of the passage ways. Which also happens if you're overweight, smoke cigarettes and take prescribed medication.
TIP 5. Once you've ruled out sleep apnea or breathing problems, which you need to see a doctor for, then you can also experiment with the endless supply of what's available on the market. Nose sprays, nasal strips, dental devices, throat sprays and the obvious operations.
You could try the pillow that straightens out your head so that you don't close your throat. My husband sleeps with his chin lifted up and it looks like his neck is in a noose. His 'hanged man' position closes the back of his throat and contributes to his snoring problem. There are pillows that are on sale that are meant to keep your neck long and your chin down. The pillow did work to a certain extent for Oli because it lengthened the back of his neck. Although my husband's complaint was it was so uncomfortable that he was up all night. (Obviously it would take getting used to!)
In finding out your snoring problem you are going to have to experiment with different methods and paraphernalia to see what works. If you can unlock the key, then you can find the solution.
Oli and I travel extensively and if you asked him he would tell you that because of his snoring he has had the privilege of sleeping in some of the finest hotel corridors around the world! That is, until we really uncovered the strategy that works for us.
Here it is: I use earplugs, Oli uses a nasal strip and nose drops. He doesn't have dairy or red wine, as he is intolerant to both. Oh yes, and I forgot, he uses the electric shock watch! Now, I couldn't ask him to do that every day of his life because he likes his food and I don't want him to feel restricted and not be himself, so we have a totally different day-to-day solution, which brings me to next weeks subject: How To Make Sleeping Apart Hot!
You can contact Sophie at firstname.lastname@example.org