Do Men Snore More?

The other night I had a dream that I was in a speaker shop buying top-of-the-line speakers for my home studio. I tested them out and they delivered crisp and pristine sound. When I got them home, however, there was this intermittent buzz that kept rolling through them. It was like a crackle, or a fuzz, or something that seemed to disrupt the clarity every few moments. I thought it was a cell signal at first—like a static electricity cross-wave attack—but I still couldn’t get to the problem even with all mobile phones around me shut off. Just when I was heading back to the store to take it up with the shop owner, I woke up.

Sleeping is an area of my relationship with Guo Jian that has been the source of many fights. He’s one of those people who decides to take a nap—anywhere—and can be asleep in five minutes. He’s a sound sleeper as well and rarely wakes when I tiptoe into the room or when I get up early for an appointment. Even turning on the light doesn’t wake him.

I, on the other hand, am a light sleeper. I will always wake up when someone comes into the room like when he comes to bed if he’s stayed up later than I have. In the morning, if I wake up and stay awake too long, I’m up for the day as well. I have a hard time going back to sleep easily, especially when my senses have perceived daylight just beyond the curtains.

This creates an imbalance in the relationship not unlike different cleanliness standards do. When one person is not easily awakened and the other is, the one who is less likely to wake has no experience with the lightness of sleep, the desire for others to be considerate about sound and light, the frustration of sleep disruption. Likewise, those who can handle more mess or disarray in a home benefit from the person whose cleanliness standards are higher; the place gets cleaned long before they can’t take it anymore. In sleep situations, the light sleeper will instinctively tiptoe around the deep sleeper when they’re still sleeping, but the sensitivity is completely wasted on them. They’ll sleep regardless. How annoying.

In our first year together, Guo Jian would often get up before me to do his Taichi. He would sit on the edge of the bed putting on his socks and pants, which invariably rocked our soft mattress back and forth until I was very awake… and slightly seasick. Then I’d be irritated and bark at him to “Let me sleep!” It wasn’t the first time I’d asked him to get dressed beside the bed or, better yet, outside of the room. But, in his foggy state, he would often forget he was waking me. What’s more, the moment I’d barked at him, I’d fully woken myself up anyway. My reaction was part of the problem. It was crazy making.

He’s also a snorer. He snores whenever he’s sleeping on his back and it’s much worse after he’s had a few drinks. I learned early to nudge him until he rolled onto his side, which would quell the roaring, but occasionally this also wakes him up. Yet, if I don’t nudge him to turn his body, he keeps me awake with his snoring. How is that fair?

When he does wake up from the nudging, he can be ferocious about it, like I’ve attempted to rip off his limbs or something. He once got so angry with me for waking him up that he grabbed his pillow and one of our blankets off the bed and stormed out to sleep on the couch. I felt like I’d won the lottery. Never. Slept. Better.

Do men snore more than women? Are they just louder? Was I lucky to have never had a partner who snored until now? Hhm. These are some of the questions I ask myself when I’m underslept and feeling sorry for myself.

Now, after a few years of these sleep fights, he has mostly stopped rocking the bed in the mornings and stopped getting angry when I accidentally wake him to adjust for his snoring, but he’s still not very good at tiptoeing when I’m sleeping. He’s Mr.Bean, remember? He’ll sometimes try to be quiet but then accidentally bump his head on the doorframe or trip over something in the room.

Sometimes he’s so excited when he comes home, too, that he can’t help but want to wake me to tell me some news about his night. As cute as that sounds, it’s extremely irritating, especially for someone who doesn’t necessarily fall asleep in five minutes. His excitement is infectious and then when he’s done telling me his news, he’ll put his head to the pillow and be snoring within a few minutes while I’m suddenly wired and unable to fall back to sleep. How is that fair?

Anyway, remember that dream I had about the speakers? I discovered when I woke up that the strange sound the speakers were making was the rumble of air being inhaled and exhaled through Guo Jian’s nasal cavities.

After that, I was up for the day.

Maybe I should make him buy me some new speakers to compensate for my sleep deprivation….


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