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Snared by snorers

If only people who snore knew how they sound!

To a weary person looking forward to a night of restful sleep, nothing is more vexatious than the inveterate snorer.

Most snorers are unaware of the havoc they wreak.

Try telling a snorer that he snores and he’ll hotly deny it and probably brand you a congenital liar.

Ask him to listen to a recording of his sonorous snoring and he’ll claim it’s someone else’s that you’re trying to foist on him. Has anyone ever figured out why a snorer can’t hear himself snore?

It’s probably because he sleeps like a log. And if he ever did hear the commotion he’s creating, it would perhaps wake him up faster than if one were to needle him with a bunch of the prickliest cactus.

Snoring, we are told, is nothing but noisy breathing during sleep, a problem common to all ages and both sexes. “Try sleeping on your side rather than your back,” the prefect in our residential school in Trichy once advised a snorer whose grunting kept the other boarders in the dormitory sleepless at night.

So the guy slept on his side, facing me one night — and I bore the brunt of his undimmed aural assault. Getting someone to exchange places with me thereafter proved impossible.

Indeed, few in our residential school were as unpopular — or as much taunted — as the snorers who often kept us awake at night with their unwelcome and unmusical ‘recitals’.  We shared a rather congested dormitory with no less than 80 boys, each with an individual camp-cot, crammed into it. So it was pretty noisy, to say the least, when the resident snorers — there were at least eight of them competing for honours — went to town after a hearty dinner.  Typically, their collective snoring would slowly rise to a crescendo, die down and then start all over again with renewed gusto — initially much to our amusement, which, however, soon turned to unalloyed annoyance as sleep deserted us. Indeed, many plugged their ears with cotton wool rather than listen to what sometimes sounded like the snorting of an amorous boar.

Of course, boys being boys, we did have our own means to silence the ‘growlers’ as we nicknamed them — though taking the law into one’s own hands often earned us the prefect’s punitive ire.  A basin of cold water tossed clandestinely was usually enough to douse the snorer’s ardour — and keep him sleepless for the rest of the night. And in extreme cases, the snorer would be quietly stretchered out, camp-cot and all, to the hockey field, and left there to entertain the stars with his grunting.

Herbert, the noisiest snorer of all, was in the habit of hitting a high octave all too frequently, followed by an anguished ‘groan’ that sounded as though he’d stepped on a red-hot cinder. Things got so bad that the prefect finally moved him out to a separate room. Strangely enough, some snorers were in their element only when they had company — nocturnal company, that is. When dozing alone during a  siesta, they seldom disturbed the peace. But ensconced in their beds in the dormitory at night and assured of a captive assembly of rapt listeners, they did raise Cain. Indeed, I used to wonder whether having a snorer as a bedfellow was divine punishment for all one’s wrongdoings!

Given its widespread prevalence, snoring has accounted for as many divorces worldwide as infidelity and other reasons. It has also probably alienated more people than any other single factor, considering that sleep is such a vital part of our lives.

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