That’s Life Article

Snoring saved my hubby.
Cathie had no idea bedtime could put her hubby at risk

I couldn’t see the time, but I knew it must be the early hours of the morning. As I lay in bed, wide awake, I realised sleep was going to evade me again that night. And the reason was lying next to me.

My husband, Jim was snoring so loudly, it sounded like a helicopter landing in the bedroom. I couldn’t catch a wink. It wasn’t my first sleepless night since we’d got married a few months before. In fact, every night had been the same. The most infuriating thing was that when Jim woke in the morning, he had no idea about his snoring problem.

Unable to cope with another sleep-free night, I booked him in to see our GP. Jim agreed to go, still denying there was a problem. Thankfully, our GP agreed with me and referred Jim for an overnight sleep study.

At a specialist clinic they wired him up to machines and monitored his slumbering state. The results were alarming, “you stopped breathing every two minutes”, the doctor said.

Jim had a condition called severe Sleep Apnoea that can be potentially fatal. The condition can affect smokers and people who are overweight but in Jim’s case it was caused by weak throat muscles. It meant when he relaxed, his throat wasn’t strong enough to hold up his tongue and it was slipping to the back of his mouth and cutting off his airway.

I was horrified. I’d never realised sleeping could be so dangerous. Suddenly I was grateful Jim had been keeping me up all night. His snoring had been a warning sign.

The doctor decided to put him on a continuous positive airway pressure machine to pump air into him as he slept. With the machine’s support, sleeping was no longer potentially deadly to Jim. But there was another problem. Now neither of us were able to get any shut-eye. The mask Jim had to wear was uncomfortable and as the pump whirred beside the bed, we both struggled to sleep.

Thinking there was nothing we could do, we soldiered on. Then I started a new job in a clinic making special mouthguards to treat Sleep Apnoea patients. The device, called Snorex, isn’t attached to a pump. Instead it maximises the air entering the patient’s lungs by bringing their lower jaw forward, keeping the tongue clear of the airways.

“We should give this a go”, I told Jim, taking him in to be fitted. That night he slipped the soft acrylic mouthguard in and we’ve never looked back. We both get to enjoy a silent night now and it’s transformed our lives.

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