Shucking Oysters: ZZZZ

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Shucking Oysters: ZZZZZ

By Alex Allen

Any snorers out there? If you’re in a relationship, no need to answer. Two thirds of all partnered adults say that their significant others snore. And no surprise, the ratio of snorers is two men to one woman. However ladies, this gap catches up after you reach menopause. Snoring is a fact of life, especially when we all get older. 

Unfortunately, for my partner, I’ve been a snorer for years. Her options are limited. Go downstairs and sleep on the couch, continually tell me, “You’re snoring, roll over,” or give me a not-so-gentle nudge. So, why do we snore? It’s not like any of us particularly enjoy it whether we are the receiver or the conveyor. As Madeleine Aggeler wrote, “one of the greatest indignities our gaping maws have inflicted upon us happens not when speaking, but when we’re unconscious.”  

Dr. Raj Dasgupta, clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, soberly explains that “snoring is the resistance of airflow through the upper airway due to relaxed tissues, and the sound is caused by the vibration of tissues in the back of the throat during sleep.” As with flatulence, it’s about the aperture; the narrower your airway, the more forceful the airflow and the louder the snoring.

It is not an easy feat to stop the snoring. Lifestyle is the first option. Lose weight, stop smoking, avoid alcohol before bedtime and sleep on your side. I’m skinny, I don’t smoke, I usually don’t drink right up to bedtime. But, I’m really good at lying on my back.

What are the other options? It’s complicated. Nasal sprays, nasal strips, nasal cones, nasal dilators, nose clips, nose plugs, magnetic rings, chin straps, mouthpieces, wristbands, masks, tongue stabilizers, and mouth tape. It’s like a shopping list for Christian Grey and other individuals with a penchant for suggestive gadgets. And the names of course, speak for themselves: Snortium, SomniFix, SleepStrips, Snoreguard, Zquiet, Pure Sleep, Silent Slumber. 

One nose plug uses a “gentle electric signal generated by a microprocessor, creating micro-nasal pressure that opens the airway, allowing your breathing to go unrestricted and unblocked.”Another electric nose plug has twin turbo fans. What? You get to sleep, but your partner is kept up all night with the sound of the whirring electric nose fans? That doesn’t seem very equitable. One consolation, is that the nose plugs make you look like a cute Care Bear. 

These nasal dilators are simply inserted in your nostrils to sort of prop open the nasal passages for better airflow, less snoring and a more peaceful sleep, says sleep medicine expert Dr. Breus. “Internal nasal dilators may feel super weird for the first 30 seconds or so, but then you get used to it and don’t notice they’re there — so they’re definitely comfortable enough for someone to sleep with,” he adds. 

What’s jet black, about three inches long, and sticky? Hostage Tape. I kid you not. Go to the website and you’ll be treated to a gallery of mouth taped “hostages” staring back at you, each with a glowing review about how wonderfully well they have been sleeping. Aggeler wrote, “the overall vibe is abduction as spa getaway.”

On Hostage Tape’s website, the brand’s creator, Alex Neist, says that his snoring was so bad that it ruined his marriage. His wife started sleeping in another room, their “intimacy disappeared,” and his kids struggled in school. Eventually the couple separated. Then, Neist discovered mouth tape, and now: “three years after divorce, I’m now back with my wife, our kids are flourishing in school, and we sleep in the same bed again.” If that’s not marketing, I don’t know what is.

Aggeler eloquently wrote, “Its packaging is … more aggressive than you might expect for a product that is meant to help you drift off into the candy colored clouds of Dreamland like a sweet, sleepy little lamb.” Indeed.

As the website attests: “This ain’t your average run-of-the-mill, flaccid pharmacy tape … This stuff adheres to your face like a barnacle to a ship’s hull and stays there — all night long. Even the fiercest of lumberjack beards don’t stand a chance.” I don’t know. It’s kind of creepy.

Other options? Surgery. That’s right. You (or your loved one) could have a procedure, known simply as a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, which widens the airway by removing tissues in the back of the throat. Just like pharmaceuticals, the possible side effects are not pleasant. The most dangerous, scar tissue making the airway even more narrow, defeating the entire purpose. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t order it. 

We all know that snoring is worse on your back. Some suggest to sew a tennis ball in the back of your favourite PJs top and then you’re more likely not to linger. Sleep experts assure us that the tennis ball won’t mess with your sleep (though it might mess with your dog).

And if all else fails, place pillow tightly over partner’s face, hold firmly until snoring stops.