Do you hear… or do you listen?
It is estimated that one in four couples in the UK are affected to some extent by snoring, and the problems stack up both for the snorer and for the partners of snorers who find themselves laying awake listening. The comical element of snoring can wear thin when we realise that snoring can actually be the reason for some couples separating.
Sympathies tend to be on the side of the partners of the snorers, snorers donning the mantle of perpetrator - this despite the fact that they are asleep and unaware of the upset they are causing, whenever it is actually taking place!
Given those typical attitudes towards snoring, you can imagine my surprise when I was approached by M, a prospective client who was a snoring listener, but who considered the problem to be entirely hers?!
M laid awake night after night, or slept in the spare room… M had slept on the bathroom floor of their hotel on their last holiday to get away from the noise… M had a very real fear that her relationship with B would not survive unless something was done… by her!
M had approached me because she’d seen that I am a specialist in sleep disorders, and she felt that her ‘sleep disorder’ was that she was listening to B, instead of just hearing him.
Actually, and maybe controversially, M was on the right track, and in fact human beings can and do tolerate all manner of noise and remain soundly asleep! It is only when we start to ascribe values to those noises that we start to experience the sort of physiological response that will keep us awake.
An unexplained noise at night will of course attract our attention, and the sound of a pane of glass being broken would quickly have us on the phone to the Police, kept wide awake courtesy of adrenalin related to our ‘fight or flight’ response, but we routinely sleep through all manner of similar volume noises without stirring. The reason is that there is no sense of threat attached to them (we recognise them as safe, even unconsciously), or irritation, or resentment, or belief that it is impossible to sleep with noise, or… well, name your grievance!
So, could M shed her damaging and unhelpful response to B’s snoring and spend the whole night in bed, asleep, next to him, night after night?
I work using a model of hypnotherapy called solution focused hypnotherapy combined with brain training (think repetition, like physical training), and my objective with M was to help her re-focus away from the problem/snoring orientated thought processes (which I feel serve to reinforce the problems), towards the object she desired, so comfortable, undisturbed sleep, with all that entails, like waking up refreshed, having energy in the daytime, feeling optimistic and capable.
There is so much that can be visualised and reframed around improvements in sleep that it's not hard to quickly fill a session, without ever referring to snoring at all, but in this instance, a suggestion I made to M that she re-imagine the sound as a huge, friendly bear laying next to her, able to protect her at a moments notice, invigilating over her safe night's sleep, really seemed to resonate.
We saw notable improvements by her third session of hypnotherapy. At her fifth session, M was moved to tears because she had spent the last three nights fast asleep next to the snoring B, and she could really see the light at the end of the tunnel. At her last session M had spent the whole of the last month next to B, and that included a weekend cruise (it was booking the cruise that drove her to seek help, after sleeping on the bathroom floor in that hotel!).
Could you change your response to your partners snoring and give up on those ear plugs once and for all?
Find a hypnotherapist dealing with sleep problems
All therapists are verified professionals.