Not the first time he's fallen asleep on the job

July 11, 2023
A man in bed wearing a sleep mask, holding a stuffed Pomeranian wearing a unicorn onesie and a hot pink Hello Kitty pillow
Bryce is a pretty basic guy. For his sleep study he only needed to bring his lucky rainbow pillow. And stuffed Pomeranian in its pink onesie. And Hello Kitty throw pillow. And custom fuzzy bunny eye mask. Photos by Sarah Pack


mugshot of bald guy with the words "trust me, I know a doctor" 

I love sleeping.

But that’s probably no real surprise. I’m looking middle age square in the eye – trying desperately to avoid staring at those khaki pants and white tennis shoes – and I have a tough time thinking of anything I’d rather do more.

 “Hey. The kids are at my parents’ house. It’s just us.”

ME: “You thinking what I’m thinking?”

WIFE: “Oh yeah.” *Closes drapes.* *Pulls down covers.* *Turns on nature sounds.* *Hands me my Batman pajamas.*

Food, beer, yes, even sex – right now, they’re all secondary to slumber. I’m currently in my late 40s, have been married to the same woman for 15 years, with however many kids we have. Two? Five? Eh, doesn’t matter. I just know there’s a boy, I think, and definitely a shorter one who argues about everything. The point is there comes a time in most adults’ lives when closing their eyes and falling asleep becomes the most thrilling thing they can imagine taking place in a bedroom.

Our household is no different. We love sleep. Treasure it. Long for the time of day when we can finally get out of our work clothes, slide under the covers, cozy up to one another and then mindlessly stare at our phones for three hours (stupid adorable cat memes) before blissfully slipping away to dreamland. Which is why my wife should probably win a Nobel Peace Prize for not murdering me. That’s because, being the excellent cliche husband that I am, I snore. Which, in case you didn’t know, makes sleeping (as well as fighting the urge to smother your loved one with a pillow) incredibly difficult for the one not doing it.

So how does one go about fixing the problem? Well, first I tried some of those Breathe Right strips on my nose. (Result: less blackheads!) Then there was the custom mouthpiece. (Result: stopped the snoring completely. Also, my sleeping.) I got so desperate, I even tried duct taping my mouth. Though my wife and I had had some success with this method during social gatherings, alas, it was not the solution to our snoring problem. Not because it didn’t work, but because we felt pretty strongly our kids would never be the same if they ever came into our bedroom in the middle of the night. (“Why are you kidnapping Daddy?”)

Sadly, our situation isn’t all that uncommon. In fact, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, nearly half of all adults snore, and over 25% are habitual snorers. (And 0.0001% are weirdos who use duct tape for something other than packing boxes.) That’s millions of couples, just like us, desperately in need of help.

Fortunately, it’s out there. Way up on the seventh floor of University Hospital is a magical place where counting sheep and preserving domestic bliss are top priorities. It’s called the MUSC Sleep Center. Featuring six queen beds, four twins and a staff that knows more about sleep than you could possibly dream of, it is a place where people of all ages can come to find solutions to whatever sleep issues they might have. To get an appointment, you simply need to get a referral from your primary care physician and in no time, you’ll be on your way to solving whatever sleep issues ail you. Waking up multiple times through the night? They can help you. Falling asleep in the middle of the day/reading this column? Yep, they can solve that too (the first part).

According to clinical coordinator Bryan Foley, whether you are 8 weeks old or 88 years, the Sleep Center is equipped to monitor your sleep and provide immediate feedback so that you can get back to doing the doozie of all middle-aged bedroom activities: dozing.

For my night’s stay there, I showed up around 7:30 p.m., giving myself just enough time to change into some comfy sleep clothes, brush my teeth and then get hooked up to some monitoring equipment – all before tucking in around 9 p.m. 

For sleep team members to understand fully what’s going on with your sleep, they need to know specifically what your body is doing during sleep. To do that, a friendly sleep technician like Andrea Perry will hook you up to several devices that specifically keep an eye on things. Like the cannula to monitor your breathing. An EKG to listen to your heart. A pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen levels. But wait! There’s more! Wires on your eyebrows (to detect deep sleep/REM), chin (are you grinding your teeth?), legs (to monitor muscle flexion), some device strapped to my chest (wait, did they say something about laser tag?); there’s even a microphone to see if you’re snoring. By the time you’re finally ready to get under the covers, you look more like a marionette than a human being (who really needs to pee but is embarrassed to ask to go because you were given like three different chances before being hooked up to all these wires) ready for sleep. 

Montage of three photos. At top a man sits in a chair as a woman gets wires untangled next to a bed. Below on the left last minute adjustments to the wires are being made as the man gets ready to get in bed and bottom right the man is getting under the covers 
Sleep technician Andrea Perry helps Bryce get ready for beddy-bye.

Once you’re finally under the covers and the lights are out, it’s your time to shine. Only it’s a tad tricky when you’re tangled up in, like, 400 wires. But hey, it’s a small price to pay when you want to get to the bottom of why you are having sleep issues. After tossing and turning for about 45 minutes (Foley showed me this the next day on this super rad minute-by-minute timeline with all my sleep data overlayed on one screen), I finally dozed off and began doing what I do best – snoring like a champ.

Though I’ll admit it wasn’t the most enjoyable night of sleep I’ve ever gotten (hey, wait, so maybe this is how my poor wife feels every night), the information I learned was so worth it. Mainly because I discovered that my sleep position was a huge reason why I was snoring. 

As it turns out, being on my back was a major contributor to my snoring. Switching to side sleeping has dramatically reduced the problem. Which is great for my wife, but for me, it’s been a bit rougher of a transition. Most nights, I still move around a lot before finally falling asleep. But I’m sure I’ll eventually get comfortable doing it, and before I know it, it’ll be the new normal. Until then, I’ve been trying a few different things to help me to fall asleep. I’ve tried counting sheep. Using a sound machine. But funny enough, it was my son who had the best idea of all. Well, it wasn’t technically an idea, really. But wow did it do the trick.

Nowadays, I sleep like a baby. My marriage is the best it’s been since having kids, and dare I say it, I’m even a better father now. And all it took was a trip to the MUSC Sleep Center. Oh, and being willing to listen to my son’s bedtime stories about Minecraft.


To learn more about the MUSC Sleep Center, call 843-792-9534 or email