Later, when I asked her to describe the sound I made, she grunted like a pig nosing its way to a trough. "I think you have Restless Leg Syndrome, too," she added, pulling the pin on the comment and tossing it at my feet before closing the bathroom door. I came clean. I couldn’t sleep. It was worse than ever, likely exacerbated by my growing mania. Zoe was nonplussed, almost amused as I promised to address the problem and then peppered her with my findings. The most surprising—and hopeful—was a new focus on couples in sleep research.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 23% of which admit to sleeping in separate beds and 20% of all couples claim they have less sex and/or have lost interest in sex because they were too sleepy. The tension between Zoe and me was also common. "The resentments build up, then you explode," explained Dr. Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D., director of the Rush University Sleep Center in Chicago, who further noted a high divorce rate among people with sleep problems. Then came the matter of my potential diagnosis. Reset Your Inner Clock to Match His
The most likely was obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder where you intermittently stop breathing during the night. Recently, it has been linked to a host of disturbing problems from depression and diabetes to heart disease and stroke. The popular solution, a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, is a Vader-like contraption that involves wearing a mask over your nose and/or mouth while you sleep.
My friend Peter said this of his newly prescribed CPAP machine: "If I was single, I’d be hiding that shit in the closet." But, he added: "When I wake up in the morning now, I'm not 'hung over' from lack of sleep." Another friend, Chris, who had severe sleep apnea, tried the UPPP (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) surgery, which involves removing soft tissue from the back of the throat, including all or part of the uvula, tonsils, and adenoids. "It just didn’t seem worth it," he concluded, after his snoring and apnea returned six months later. Paul, the younger brother of a college friend, also had the UPPP surgery, and it changed his life. He stopped snoring, no longer relied on caffeine to function, lost a significant amount of weight, and would "do it again in a heartbeat."