Sleeping nearly tore us apart
Jo Towner, 27, had a great relationship with her boyfriend, until her bedtime habits came between them.
My loud snoring had always been a family joke, but I didn’t realise how serious it was until I moved in with my boyfriend, Alan, 30, in Essex two years ago. Within three months he was making excuses to go to bed before me. I thought it was odd, but our sex life had also tailed off and I couldn’t help thinking that he was perhaps going off me. I finally broached the subject and Alan was quick to reassure me he still fancied me. He’d make excuse like he had a cold or that he needed to go to bed to relax. Sometimes he added, ‘And you talk in your sleep.’
I was desperate to find a solution, so we splashed out on a huge new bed and I stocked up on remedies for Alan’s colds and relaxing oils to help him sleep. But he was still tired and ratty, and I raised the only problem left was me. I raised the subject again and this time Alan confessed, ‘Jo, it’s actually your snoring, not sleeptalking that’s keeping me awake.’
He said my snores echoed around the room – even his iPod couldn’t block out the noise. 'Well, wake me up and stop me!' I said, mortified. But I’m such a deep sleeper, he had to shake me, and often wake to find him yelling at me out on sheer frustration: “Why won’t you wake up and shut up?!" All I could do was apologise, then wait for him to fall asleep again so I could try to get some rest too.
But my snoring would inevitably start all over again – and we were often up two or three times at night, arguing and crying, both worried about how we’d cope at work the next day. Alan’s in the police force and I’m a construction worker, so we needed our sleep.
We were tired during the day and irritable with each other in the evenings. For five months we had virtually no sex life. We tried sleeping in separate bedrooms, thinking that might restore our energy and our love life. It did, but being apart just didn’t feel right.
So the problem carried on, arguments kept erupting as we were so tired. Eventually I blurted out, ‘Well, maybe we should just split up!' But neither of us wanted to, so I went to a doctor who prescribed a foul-tasting nasal spray. That didn’t work, so I tried different remedies I found online – a chin strip to hold my mouth shut, nasal strips to clear my nostrils, and a mouth guard to change my jaw alignment. Only the latter worked a bit, but it always fell out and ended up on Alan’s side of the bed."
Finally, I decided to try laser assisted uvuloplasty (LAUP) – a minor operation to remove the uvula (the dangly thing at the back of the throat) which vibrates during sleep. It cost £1,800 – but at this point I’d have sold my soul to save my relationship. Alan felt embarrassed, guilty and grateful when I told him I’d seen a specialist who’d confirmed the operation would reduce my snoring. The op was scheduled for late November at The Private Clinic in London.
The surgeon stuck a long needle in my throat to numb the area, and then, bizarrely, asked me to sing, to make my uvula protrude more. While I warbled Morning Has Broken, he worked away and it was over in minutes. I was warned it could take six weeks for the snoring to subside, but Alan noticed the difference within a few days. I still snore, but more softly now – and I’m not keeping him awake. Our relationship is better than ever, and separate beds are a thing of the past!
I just wish I’d had the treatment earlier – it could have saved us so much heartache.
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