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?