Faith Eckersall couldn’t sleep for her partner’s lip-flapping, honking-style snoring. So she made like the Americans and kicked him into a makeshift snoratorium, or ‘snore room’
Haemorrhoids and an evening with Donald Trump aside, is there anything worse than lying awake at night, bug-eyed, furious and unable to go to sleep?
There certainly is: when you are suffering this nocturnal torture while the person next to you is snoring away, oblivious to your murderous desperation.
It isn’t just the infuriating sounds; variously, lip-flapping, choking, and that noise the Queen Mary makes as it comes into port. It’s the fact that none of this even wakes him up. I’m the one who suffers. (Research shows that twice as many men as women snore.)
The only comfort to all snoring victims is that we are not alone. ‘Snoring affects three quarters of the UK’s estimated 15 million couples, with 75 per cent saying they had spent the night in separate rooms due to snoring. In one survey, highlighted in the Daily Mail newspaper, it was claimed that nearly one in five of the 45-54 age group admitted that snoring had been the cause of a relationship breakdown.
You can buy mouth-guards, chin straps, nasal-strips, nasal sprays, acupressure rings, or sew a tennis ball to the back of your other half’s jim-jams
Good news for the divorce lawyers, maybe. But grim news for everyone else – even the snorers themselves, apparently. According to Dr Tim Crayford, medical director of retirement investment specialists the JRP Group, undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnoea can be a risk-factor for premature death. ‘It is treatable so that’s good news but if you still carry the risk you may get an enhancement on your pension,’ he says, explaining that untreated sleep apnoea stresses the cardio-vascular system, meaning sufferers are at greater risk of heart-attacks and strokes.
With so many people’s existences resembling something out of Shaun of the Dead, then, and with these hefty health, wealth and happiness considerations at stake, you’d reckon that snoring, and the stamping out of it, would be a major priority for couples.
Admittedly you can have operations – although the outcomes seem very inconsistent. (In one story I read, a man in hospital awaiting his snoring operation asked the man in the next bed, who had been snoring all night, when he was having his. The man told him it had already taken place.)
You can buy mouth-guards, chin straps, nasal-strips, nasal sprays, acupressure rings, or sew a tennis ball to the back of your other half’s jim-jams. (It’s supposed to stop them sleeping on their back, one of the major causes of snoring.)
One in six couples sleep apart because of snoring
You can try industrial foam ear plugs which guarantee to block out noise up to 90 decibels – around the same volume as a food blender. (Even then, they don’t prevent me hearing my other half’s snores.) You can try the ear plugs for swimmers – if you enjoy sleeping with what feels like two drill bits in your head. Or you can choose the wax ones – if you don’t mind waking up with a giant, sticky lump attached to your hair after they’ve fallen out during the night.
But in the end, as thousands of us are discovering, there is only one sensible solution. And that is the snore room.
According to the British Sleep Council, one in six couples sleep apart because of snoring. In the past, most of these poor folk were hunkering down on the sofa, with a single duvet for company.
Not any more, though. Early last year the Sunday Times reported that developers were starting to incorporate a second master bedroom into their property plans. “As wealth increases, demand for comfort increases, and it’s now pretty commonplace,” said Peter Brookes, the associate director of Savills in London’s Hampstead.
The silver lining to the 50-something empty-nest horror is that you often find a bedroom has become tantalisingly empty
But were they just following a trend from Australia, where snore rooms are affectionately known as ‘drunk bunks’, or from the US, which has had them for years?
Across the pond, builders specialising in communities for active ‘seniors’ offer new homes featuring snore rooms as standard. Following media reports that actor Tom Cruise was alleged to have a snore room – they call them snoratoria over there – one Hollywood estate agent confirmed they were growing in popularity, with some even containing fish tanks to ‘cover the noise and soothe the snorer’.
Supposing, like most of us, you can’t afford a property with a second master suite? Well, the silver lining to the 50-something empty-nest horror is that you often find a bedroom has become tantalisingly empty…
And that’s what happened to me.
Although I felt duty bound to keep my son’s teenage photo collages of random holiday drunkenness and silly festival hats, I only realised the snore room was a Thing when I started budgeting for a nice, memory foam mattress in there, rather than the lumpy horror he had put up with.
Even if you live in a property where space is tight or every room is still spoken for, however, don’t despair.
Treat yourself to a lovely new sofabed, complete with enough storage space for pillows and a duvet, and take turns to sleep downstairs. Yes, it will cost you more than a few hundred pounds. But every penny will be worth it because a decent night’s sleep – as the partners of all snorers will attest – is, actually, priceless.