By Bunmi Sofola
This morning, I woke up alone again, as I do every morning”, said Caroline, tongue in check. She was trying to make me see the importance of separate bedrooms to some fledgling marriages. She continued: “I nipped down to the kitchen to make a plate of hot buttered toast and brought it back to bed with me with a cup of tea. I switched on the TV, laid back and happily scattered crumbs all over the sheets without feeling guilty.
“Ever since my husband and I decided to sleep in separate bedrooms some years ago, our marriage has been happier and more fulfilling than ever – we hadn’t had an argument, nor is our sex life a thing of the past. As I heard him make his way to the kitchen to fetch his own moin-moin and coffee, I smiled as I recalled our ‘date’ in his bedroom yesterday evening, which ended with a good night kiss before I tip-toed back to my own sanctuary!”
Caroline is in some very good company. Sharing a marital bed is not as popular as it once was, she said. “I love my husband dearly and the physical attraction between us remains as strong as the day we met. But between his snoring and my fidgeting, we just couldn’t get along while we are sharing a duvet.
Folusho and I met some 15 years ago when he was 45. Like a lot of men in this country, he snores – very loudly, every night, without fail. Then I read of a survey that revealed that more than half of all couples find snoring the most annoying habit in bed. For me, sleepless nights became a fact of life.
Yet my husband was so lovely in other ways that I felt compelled to try to turn a deaf ear to a habit he couldn’t really help. This went on for years until six years ago when we separated. He already had two children from his first marriage and now in his 50s, was adamant he didn’t want more than the only child I had for him.
“A year later, he managed to woo me back with the promise I could have one or two more. I was delighted because I really loved him – but didn’t feel the same about his snoring. Our first few weeks back together were heaven by day, hell-on-earth by night. Ear plugs, anti-snoring sprays and nasal strips made zero impact. At my insistence he consulted his doctor who told him that his sonorous habit was caused by damage to his septum. On the basis that it would be painful and might not even work, he declined the suggested surgery.
“Not long after, we were on holidays abroad, his snoring became so bad that I woke him up and threatened that if he didn’t stop snoring, I would drench him in icy cold water. I pleaded he should take a few pillows and sleep in the bathroom. He argued that since I was the only one complaining, I was the one who should sleep in the bathroom. So, I took myself off to a cold, tiled floor, next to a dripping tap!
“Once we got home, I told him straight away I wanted to sleep in the spare room and much to my amazement he greeted the idea warmly. He said he’d been trying to think of a way to tell me that my fidgeting and getting up to the loo so many times in the night was driving him insane! And so, five years ago, I moved into the spare room. I go to bed early and read – books, magazines, whatever. I ate biscuits and all sorts of snacks and got crumbs everywhere – a habit Folusho can’t stand.
“Night after glorious night, I go to sleep and stay asleep. By contrast, my husband goes to bed very late and watches television with the AC in full force!
“Friends say we’re missing out on those spontaneous moments of intimacy and early-morning nookie. But in reality, people wake up with bad breath and flatulence, not in a romantic embrace! Intimacy may feel like it’s ‘on tap when you share the same bed, but in my experience, couples who know they can do it any time actually end up doing it very little. But when you have separate beds, you make time for each other out of desire, not out of habit. In fact, our sleeping arrangements are so stress-free all round, that I have been recommending it as a fool proof way of reinvigorating a relationship.”
What Those Headache And Migraines Are Telling You
When to go to the doctor: If you are taking the maximum dose of painkillers regularly to get relief, speak to your doctor. It’s also important to differentiate between headaches and migraines. “The pain pathways are completely different,” explains Boots Pharmacist Angela Chalmers (Migraines are typically throbbing, “one-sided” head pains, accompanied by light sensitivity and nausea. They are often preceded by fuzzy vision and made worse by movements). “Sumatriptan is a good over-the-counter painkillers for migraines,” she adds.
Self-help: “Most headaches can be resolved without any medication at all,” says Chalmers. “The trick is to work out what’s caused it… When did you last eat or drink? Have you been at a computer for hours without break? It’s also worth considering an eye test. Often, drinking a big glass of water, or rubbing the temples and neck for five minutes to relieve any tension, is sufficient.” Similarly, keeping a diary can help to identify migraine triggers and avoid attacks.
For more information, go to: The Migraine Trust (www.migrainetrust.org.)
Leg health: Faulty veins are the main cause of serious leg problems.
“But only half of cases have any visible signs,” says Professor Mike Whiteley, consultant surgeon and clinical director of the Whitely Clinic. Most worrying are ‘hidden’ varicose veins. Another common – and potentially fatal – problem is deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the leg. This is usually caused by inactivity and restricted movement (which is why long flights can be a problem) but family history and obesity are risk factors.
When to go to the doctor: Symptoms of DVT include pain, heat, redness and swelling in the calf, all of which should be checked out urgently. “The tell-tale signs for varicose veins are legs that ache when you stand but get better when you sit down,” explains Professor Whiteley. “You may also have swelling, itchy skin or red/brow stains in the lower leg and ankles – all caused by blood pooling under the skin. Left untreated, this can result in leg ulcers.”
Self-Help: A venous duplex ultrasound scan is a good idea if you suspect hidden varicose veins. Sitting or standing for long periods? Help keep DVT at bay by rocking back and forth on your feet, rotating your ankle and pointing and flexing the feet. For more information, go to: Assess your risk of varicose veins at www.veinsscreening.co.uk.