As a single woman looking for love, falling asleep next to another person is one of the most enjoyable, vulnerable and beautiful parts of one's romantic journey. But what about when you add sleep apnea to the mix? Here’s the thing: sleep apnea can be deadly. This full-on obstructive and harmful sleep condition can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, and can also hasten the decline of kidney function. Unfortunately, treatment often requires integrating a medical device called a CPAP machine into one’s nightly sleep schedule. And that means having to regularly wear an incredibly unattractive mask attached to about six feet of tubing.
Rationally, it makes sense to use this life-saving device as prescribed by a doctor. But from a vanity perspective...well, when you're meeting new people, it's kind of embarrassing. The CPAP is clunky, ugly, and overall ridiculous-looking (no matter how chic manufacturers try to make it appear). It basically takes something beautiful - that is, the concept of falling blissfully asleep next to another person - and turns it into less of a dream, and more of a nightmare.
No doubt, having sleep apnea takes the sexy out of all things slumber-related. As a result, a woman may develop strategies to keep potential partners from learning about her condition. Here are 11 stages a sleep apnea'd single woman may go through as she searches for love, from avoidance to eventual acceptance.
1. When you first meet somebody, you decline any and all invitations for a sleepover.
Even if you've literally just had sex with them, you're physically and mentally exhausted, and have absolutely no desire to move your body until the sun comes up.
2. You plan ahead for transportation if you go out.
Because God forbid you're stranded somewhere without an exit plan, and there's no other option but to stay over.
3. You ensure you have a solid "Sorry, gotta go!" excuse at the ready.
And you know it needs to be something good: an excuse that sounds realistic and can't be argued (like "my mother is sick and needs me up at 3 a.m. to help her to the bathroom").
4. You also have a carefully worded way to say "Get out of here now, before one of us falls asleep!"
Because if they're at your place and they start getting sleepy (or worse, they begin dropping hints they want to spend the night), you need a nice way to dismiss them without seeming like a jerk.
5. Despite their pleas to cradle you in their arms all night, you realize you will need to stay strong.
Because come on, look into those eyes! You know you want to wake up in the morning next to that beautiful creature.
5. But over time, you think they may be able accept your "condition."
As you get to know each other, you realize you may be able to trust this person. Could you possibly abandon your rule for overnighters? Could he or she be willing to overlook your sleep apnea?
6. You test them out with a brief afternoon nap.
Of course, they don't realize this is a test. You prep in advance them with an attempt-to-be-cute warning: "I may snore or drool a little bit, hahaha! No, really! I'm serious!" Because they truly have no idea just how much you are the antithesis of Sleeping Beauty. And you are certainly not ready to haul out your CPAP machine.
7. You gauge their reaction to your limited-time snoring.
When you wake up, you ask just how bad your snoring was. Your sleeping partner doesn't know it, but this is the point of no return. As you anticipate their response, you hope against hope they won't say anything to shatter your opportunity for a beautiful future together.
8. It's truth time, bitches!
Assuming your love interest is accepting of your nap-time snoring, you then take the next (and most dreaded) step: you tell them you have chronic sleep apnea, that you're an absolutely horrendous snorer, and you can wear a CPAP mask to eliminate the noise and help you breath, but it's frigging ugly (it's essentially a mask with a long hose attached to a shoebox-sized electronic machine) and you sound like Darth Vader when you use one.
9. You take the plunge: you schedule an overnight date.
Assuming your romance is still progressing nicely, you are now ready for the Big Reveal. Pre-slumber, everything is business as usual: date night is wonderful. But when it's time to bed-down, it's show-and-tell time, baby! You give your new love an option: you can wear the CPAP mask (in which case, you're volunteering to kind of look like an elephant but you both get a decent sleep), or you can go without the CPAP mask (in which case, you both get a crappy sleep, but you personally get to hold your vanity in tact)?
10. If true love reigns? Your partner wants you to wear the mask.
Gingerly, you put the mask on, with your back facing your sleeping partner. You turn off the light and fall asleep. You wake up the next morning, completely forgetting someone is there next to you. You roll over, carefully trying not to strangle yourself with the tubing (seriously, that tubing is like 6 feet long) and...a pair of gorgeous, kind eyes is looking at you wearing this ridiculous-looking-yet-life-saving contraption. Oh no, you look terrible!
But then you hear something that makes your heart leap with joy: "Good morning, sunshine. I hope you slept well. I sure did!" Phew! The mask comes off.
11. Cuddle like normal folk.
Take a deep breath. Congratulate yourself: you have put your health first and found inner acceptance. Plus, now you've got this wonderful person lying next to you. You are a single woman with sleep apnea, and you are bringing sexy back!
Images: Franca Gimenez /Flickr; Giphy