Monday, March 29, 2010

Catching Some Zzz... Or Not

Ah, the comforts of being back in my own room! I’ve only just begun the Pesach break and I already feel spoiled compared to my dorm conditions at YU. In particular, I am really enjoying having my own room again. I have always found the necessity of sharing living space to be a bit of a challenge, especially since I grew up as the sole inhabitant of my bedroom for the first 18 years of my life before I shipped out for my Yeshiva in Israel.

I’ve already written a rather extensive post about what can be learned from the experience of having roommates of all different sorts, so please read that if you haven’t seen it already.

Anyway, the sudden presence of serenity, silence, and proper darkness (I’m a little sensitive to light) while sleeping in my own bed – undisturbed by the potential commotions, however slight, caused by a roommate – has gotten me thinking. How do people (male and female) handle this transition of sleeping in the presence/along with another person when married?

For those readers who may have their minds located in the nearest sewage canal, I’m literally talking about sleeping, and not the more intimate side of the married relationship.

One particular former roommate was a very light sleeper (as I mention in the earlier post), and was actually woken up by the mere action of me rolling over (I’m a side-sleeper). I always wondered what would happen to him when he got married, and presumed that the dictum of chazal that say “ishto k’gufo” – “a wife is like his own body” would apply. Hence any potential disturbance caused by future wife would be negated by her united marital status with him, and whatever action/sound she might produce would be as though he himself were the source and thus ignored.

I actually had the chutzpah to ask him about this in a nonchalant fashion not too long ago (he’s been married for over a year now) and he answered that my theory was correct!

As a caveat, and based on my reputation as a man of empirical evidence in regard to such matters, I won’t guarantee similar results for everyone.

One issue that has consistently bothered me, though it has only manifested itself more recently than in years past, is snoring.

I simply can’t stand the sound of someone snoring in my near vicinity when I’m trying to sleep, regardless of the intensity and decibel level of their noise production. I’ve tried earplugs, which either work too well and make me miss my alarm in the morning, or don’t work well enough and my alarm wakes me up, but I can still detect the snoring.

Ladies take note, I have discovered through my own experiences (and via the testimony of some of my friends’ mother’s/aunts) that larger or heavier men tend to snore as a given. It seems the Wikipedia entry corroborates my observation since “Fat gathering in and around the throat” is a cause while one treatment is “to lose weight (to stop fat from pressing on the throat).” One remedy that is much more easily attained is simply to stop sleeping on one’s back – which Chazal/halacha proscribes for men based on other reasons (v’hamayvin yavin). One roommate in Israel, who happened to be a little heavy, would cease snoring after I prodded and beckoned him enough to simply “roll over” onto his side.

However, from the complaints I’ve heard from married women, it seems that men who snore aren’t cured quite so easily. One aunt, who was visiting for a bit, grumbled that she had gotten no sleep the previous night because she forgot her earplugs back home, and my uncle’s snoring nearly shook the walls of their bedroom.

On the other hand, slender guys (a variety which I belong to) seem to have very little tendency to snore. I’ve shared rooms with three, four, and five guys who are within a healthy weight range for their height, and I cannot recall any of them sounding like a hacksaw during the night. That doesn’t rule out the possibility, because there could be other anatomical deviations that create unwanted sound.

Take note any female readers who may intend to date/marry me: I don’t snore, and I have former roommates who can testify to this fact. Not that I ever expect to get a date from this gig, I just had to mention that for the record.

Anyway, I tend to wonder for my own future sleep prognosis – do girls snore, (the Wikipedia article seems to indicate some do), and in general, do people (guys or girls) try to find out this little tidbit of information about the people they date? I’ve honestly had a large degree of difficulty coping with snoring roommates – to the point of sleep deprivation that has negatively impacted on my learning and secular studies in a major fashion. I would really hate to marry a wonderful woman and discover, to my abject horror that I will have to employ earplugs for the entirety of my married life (which will hopefully be the rest of my life).

A related issue is the tendency for some people to flail their limbs while sleeping, which could be quite disturbing for someone sharing the same sleeping space. Interestingly enough, the BBC published an article last year that mentions the historical reality that married couples never used to sleep in the same bed, and that sleeping in separate beds (which is part of our halachic married reality) is actually healthier for both parties involved. As romantic as the idea is of falling asleep in your beloved’s arms, I really wonder how comfortable this arrangement can be.

Any comments, readers?


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  2. First of all, let me be the first to say - this was one of your funniest posts yet! And I assume you intended most of it to be serious - however, I was laughing the whole way through! It must just be the subject matter. (Best line - "Not that I ever expect to get a date from this gig, I just had to mention that for the record." Very brave to put that up there. Especially when I recall a comment a few weeks back regarding a potential shidduch for you...?)

    Girls snore - and not only "overweight" ones (that doesn't translate to "anything larger than a size 6," ladies). My sister is skinny as a toothpick, and she snores, even when she doesn't have a cold. Wikipedia has it right - if the snorer moves to their side or front, the snoring stops. Which leads me to roll my nasally symphonic sister to her side at 2 AM.

    Thanks for the great post, and good luck in your search for a snoreless girl!

  3. I had a roommate who used to talk in her sleep- she would moan and groan and kvetch, and no one was ever able to wake her up. And while it's possible for girls of any weight to snore, I notice that my heavier friends are more likely to have the tendency.
    Aside from being annoying, snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea, especially in people who are overweight or have thick necks (football players). My father has snored for years, and it is so loud I can sometimes hear it through the walls. No wonder my mother never sleeps...

  4. "and I have former roommates who can testify to this fact"
    Which brings us to the latest in dating ideas: When things get serious enough (whenever THAT is) both sides get to corral former roommates and milk them for relevant information. Only caveat is: no one gets to lie.

  5. Happy Medium - Someone did attempt setting me up a little ago, though I was busy at the time and they have since not followed up with me. While such occurrences could very well happen (I think Bad4 mentioned she's been set up by readers before), I'm really not expecting that at all. I also usually make anyone who wants to suggest a shidduch for me read my profile first, since it gives a better picture of who I am and what I'm looking for. I'm not too keen on freely giving that away to random readers with ideas - since it is counter-intuitive to my attempt to keep this anonymous (which isn't foolproof at any rate).

    NYC Girl - I once had a roommmate who would quote halachic discussions and name shittos/rabbeim in his sleep (on a few rare occasions). I don't remember what he said, however...

    Sarah - why should someone wait until a relationship gets serios enough (whenever that is) to contact roommates for information? Shouldn't that be part of the initial research, since former roommates tend to be good sources of information, particularly about what it's like to live with the person. It can also be important to know why the former roommates became FORMER rommates, which are hopefully for positive reasons (such as getting married/graduating) and not because the person was too much of a jerk or whatever

  6. It is definitely true that heavier people are more likely to snore. My uncle used to snore and it bothred my aunt. He lost a LOT of weight and he completely stopped snoring, and my aunt was thrilled!

    I had to deal with this issue over Pesach since for the first days we have a lot of guests B"H and so my sister had to sleep in my room and she snores and it always wakes me up, since I am a light sleeper.

    In terms of finding out whether a potential match snores, I think that there are more important things to consider. Although snoring is quite annoying, if you found the perfect person to marry, would refuse to marry them because they snored? I would hope this would be something that could be worked out. There is no use to finding out this information in advance.

  7. I have a friend who said she knows of a marriage that broke up over snoring. So yeah, it can be serious. I mean, if you can't get any sleep, you become snappy, and your life falls apart. Sleep is important. Snoring, therefore, is also important.

    Girls snore. I've had to prod heavy-weight friends to get them to stop snoring.


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