Sunday, April 6, 2008

On Snoring

The following useful article is more or less an excerpt from my book One for the Road. It's a travel book intended to be read as a novel, although there's lots of useful information for travellers in it.

I consider myself a defender of all basic human rights. There's only one committable crime for which I support the use of capital punishment; No mercy can be given to those who choose to sleep in hostel dormitories despite knowing that they are world-class snoring champions! Serious snorers must at night be kept away from innocent and silent sleepers. Even when confined to single rooms, they should stick to a sleeping position that minimizes the noise. If it's bad enough, a snoring sound can easily penetrate a wall. The offender could for instance try sleeping with his or her head in water, preferably face-down.

Lacking laws to protect us, we must seek out other ways to deal with snoring people. Here are some techniques you can use:

1. Always, but always, carry ear plugs in a pocket or container you have easy access to. While some snoring can penetrate ear plugs and thus only worsen the situation, ear plugs will in many cases dampen the noise enough to let you sleep. Practice sleeping while wearing ear plugs at home, as you have to get used to sweaty auditory canals and the sound of your own heartbeat.

2. Go to bed before the snoring person and fall asleep as quickly as you can. It helps if you spend the day getting really tired, as it will make your sleep deeper. Sooner or later the snoring will wake you up, but in theory you are then close to rested anyway, so you can consider the nasal blares to be your nasty wake-up call.

3. Keep an arsenal of small objects in or near your bed. The objects must be suitable for being thrown at the offender without injuring him permanently. (Although offenders can be of any gender, men are generally the worst.) Suitable projectiles are rolled-up socks, loaves of soft bread, rolls of toilet paper, empty plastic bottles, newspapers and large beetles, preferably dead ones. In the middle of the night it is too much of an effort to get out of bed and walk over to the offender to physically stop the snoring. Throwing objects at him can often work just as well, and it may simultaneously reward you with some much needed satisfaction.

4. If you lack hand missiles, you can go to the offender's bed, wake him up and ask the offender to sleep on his stomach. This is likely to stop the snoring. If you're sleeping in a bunk bed, though, and the snoring person is above you, there is another option available.

When the snoring commences, you simply kick upwards into the bottom of the offender's mattress. Adjust the force of your kick to the size of the receiver. I once failed to do so, and sent a modest-sized, snoring Singaporean flying onto a concrete floor from an altitude of two metres. Luckily he never understood what had happened. It was not a pleasant situation. For him, I mean. Ideally you should kick just hard enough to make the offender change his position. Keep on kicking until the noise is reduced to an acceptable level.

5. For various reasons you may wish to avoid physical contact with the offender. If so, you can direct a fine sprinkle of flour or sugar into his open mouth. This will invariably lead to the offender licking his lips without waking him up. Maybe he will even close his mouth. Either way, the shape of his respiratory passage will be altered. Continue until the snoring ceases. (And stop before breathing ceases.)

6. I can only recommend this last option when you know in advance that someone will snore in the night. Characteristics to look out for are obesity, breathing with an open mouth even when awake, and having bruises on the forehead from thrown plastic bottles or similar items.

What you do is to put itching powder in the bed or inside the sleeping bag of the suspect. When he goes to bed, he will not fall asleep. Instead he will spend the night itching and scratching himself. Who does not sleep, does not sin by snoring. But you will sleep well. (Unless he spends the night swearing loudly. Consider the possibility before you act.)

Unfortunately, not even all these excellent pieces of advice can guarantee you a good night's sleep. If you have other (and better) methods for securing your dormitory sleep, please inform me by commenting on this article.

Happy sleepy trails,

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