(Translation: Feeling Tired).
I am going to talk of a topic that is one that becomes the bane of each and every backpacker. The thing that stops serene slumber, that ignites irritability, that hinders happiness and obstructs optimism. The thing that disrupts delightful dreaming, prohibits peak performance and that puts paid to plentiful perusals.
No I’m not talking about mugging, robbery or loss of required documents (I.e., passports). I’m talking about snoring.
Yes, snoring. The snorting, snuffling and grunting a fair few make as they nestle down to nap. Or in some cases, the trumpeting tremors that keep all around awake and agitated.
You see, staying in hostels and what not often means accommodation being eight to ten person dorms. So the chances of being in with a snorer are quite high (apparently, a good 30 per cent of those over the age of 20 are slumbering snufflers). And with the likelihood of one to snore mushrooming when insanely sleep deprived, being on Contiki with all a good 15 to 20 hours underdone meant those who would normally sleep soundlessly would sometimes get their grunt on.
So what actually is snoring? Well, it is the vibration of respiratory structures and the consequential sound of obstructed air movement whilst one is in slumber. For some, the sound can be nice and soft (I.e., bearable for those around) but in others (and most) it is loud, intrusive and extremely unpleasant.
To get a little scientific on you (well, hardly, but Year 11 Human Bio was the one NCEA exam I ever did fail – honestly, I thought my knowledge of the human reproduction system for section one would give me marks to outshine the barely attempted section two on optics and three on circulatory processes. Apparently words like “fanny” are not correct terminology however, and culled a fair few points on the old marking front), the structures involved in what leads to the direness that is snoring are the uvula (que images of Ula from Shortland Street) and the soft palate. Irregular airflow that leads to the grunts and grizzles are caused by a passageway blockage and is caused by either throat weakness (causing the throat to close once unconsciousness comes on), a mispositioned jaw (often caused by tension in the facial muscles), fat accumulating in and around the throat, obstructions in the nasal passageway (often why one may snore when sick), obstructive sleep apnea, the tissues at the top of airways touching each other and causing vibrations (and not in the Marky Mark way – these are not Good Vibrations), relaxants such as alcohol or drugs chilling someone out so much their throat muscles slacken also or the sleeping on one’s back which sometimes leads to the tongue dropping to the back of the mouth.
I have never been a snorer, bar sometimes getting my heavy breathing on when a touch sick, and I have never really been in company of a snorer before either (when we travelled SEA a few years ago and were a tad under slept, Jaas once got his snore on but a swift kick in his side halted that quick smart; start as you mean to go on and all that). And once I am asleep I am dead to the world, usually with nothing about to rouse me bar a singing out bladder or tilling alarm.
So it was maddening, grating, exasperating and a touch tying to find that pretty much each and every night I was in a confined space with at least one trumpeter. No worries at all if I settled off to sleep first – once out, out – but incredibly unideal when said snorer would coast off to cloudland and get their rumble on before I had descended into a doze.
I am not blaming snorers any which way; I mean; they can’t help it can they? But in the early hours of the morning, when you haven’t drifted off at all and have to get up in an hour and a half, you can’t help but kind of hate them.
One night it was me and my two favs left on the trip bunking in together and – as a result of being heavily sleep divested – both were going to town on the sound. When yelling their names and throwing pillows (and then some clothing, a jandal and a hairbrush, it must be said) proved to no avail, I roughly shook one awake and pleaded with her to give me some Bluetack to shove in my ears as makeshift ear plugs (extremely desperate a move; kids, don’t attempt to do so at home).
Another night a couple were sleeping next to me (in a separate bed – this wasn’t one of those crazy Contiki orgys you sometimes hear of) and the lad was inhaling and exhaling with gusto. I was actually enraged, hollering and bellowing out his name (once again, not a crazy Contiki orgy story) to try and stir him to shut the fuck up (to no avail).
The next morning, after no more than 90 minutes of sleep, I calmed myself by the notion that we had a good seven-hour stint on the bus where I could burrow down and catch up on my winking – but would you know it, the lass in front and lad behind both got their broadcast on also! I was beside myself and on our first stop off had to go and have a furious swing on the children’s playground to eradicate the vehemence from me.
In a search for a significant other (not that I am actively a looker for one) most people have a list of attributes that the special someone should hopefully fulfil. Up until now, mine only had two notes – the ability to make me laugh, and the need to be somewhat dependable (I.e., not tell me he’d meet me somewhere at 3pm and then call me two days later in another country with a new pregnant girlfriend and kid on the way) (not that this has ever happened to me, but just saying. If he greeted me at 3pm at the meeting spot and took me away to another country, that would be a different story – as long as the expecting mistress was not in company as well, of course). (Actually, existed at all, it must be said). But now that first place log of humour has been overtaken by one in capital letters: NOT A SNORER.
(Luckily PMS is not one, so things appear promising in that regard).
Statistics say that your chance of becoming part of the asleep symphony up ten per cent with every decade you age. So when I hit my fifties, there is a much greater chance of me catching onto the catnap choir. And I feel for those who can’t help but snore already, I really do. I don’t like to make them feel guilt-ridden or culpable for something that is largely out of their control (I admit, I did Google natural, herbal and pharmaceutical options to literally remedy the situation once 3am arrived and my eyes were still adamantly open). But for the remainder of this trip I am stocking up on all things sound proofing when it comes to shared staying places.
Apologies. Just needed to plug.