My husband Chris and I have been married over twenty years and each evening after saying goodnight to our three children we sprint upstairs to the bedroom for our nightly “ritual.”   I know what you’re thinking.  “Wow, are they lucky!  Even after so many years they can still run up those stairs!”

Our nightly ritual is a game we call “Beat the Clock.”  We race to see who can get into bed first, and the winner gets to fall asleep by himself/herself.

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This started when Chris began snoring—the day after we got married.  It wasn’t a loud snore.  It was more like a soft little puff, the kind a baby dragon might make, or a young lad trying to whistle with a mouthful of Saltines.

I managed to sleep through Chris’s snoring until we started a family, which as every parent knows, causes chronic sleep-impairment.  We felt like military soldiers trying to sleep in enemy territory—startled awake by sounds that under normal circumstances can be heard only by mice and dolphins.   Now, trying to fall asleep next to a sleeping dragon, I’d have had better luck breathing underwater.

Over time the gentle puffs grew into loud honks, the kind made by migrating geese, or that cause commuters to line up to board the Staten Island Ferry.

I tried everything:  customized earplugs, white noise, and pillows over the head.   The earplugs didn’t work.  The white noise was so irritating I’d rather have listened to Gangnam Style.  The pillow over the head I thought worked well, but Chris complained that he couldn’t breathe.

I found that the only solution, short of Chris sleeping with a snorkel stuffed in his mouth, was for me to fall asleep before him so I could fall into a deep REM before he fell into a deep snore.  It worked for a while but then he started to complain.

“Your sleep routine is disruptive to the whole family. You can’t keep feeding the kids dinner at 3:00 p.m. and telling them it’s bedtime.  Besides, I want to relax after work, but you complain when I watch TV while you’re trying to sleep.”

“That’s because you have the TV on so loud.”

“It’s on mute!” he said.

I could sense his frustration, but I was frustrated too. We had both become victims of his snoring.

It was around the time that I developed seasonal allergies when things changed.  I was so congested that I could hardly breathe. I went to the doctor and when I returned home early that evening I was stunned to find Chris already in bed fast asleep.  I was confused.  Was he was trying to beat me at my own game? I waited until the next morning to confront him.

“Why did you go to bed before me yesterday?” I asked.

“Because I’ve had trouble falling asleep lately. It seems  you don’t just have seasonal allergies,” he said, with a trace of amusement.  “You have seasonal snoring.”


When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother.  Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties.  Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist.  Her monthly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Visit her blog  Follow her on twitter @lisatognola