Gadget Lust: The Miracle Cure for Snoring May Break Up Your Marriage

The Nudging Pillow will cure your mate of snoring—or maybe cure you of being married Hammacher Schlemmer

Some people are so desperate for a decent snore-free night’s sleep that an anti-snoring taser would sell like hotcakes. (“Shock your beloved into a dazzling night of peaceful slumber!”) Hammacher Schlemmer, the old world purveyor of some great and unusual gadgets, recently introduced a softer, gentler solution to the problem that is keeping much of the country awake: the Snore-Activated Nudging Pillow. Since I don’t snore, I needed to test this out on my beleaguered but kindly husband, whom we’ll call Snorbert. Like any good scientist, I kept a diary of our experiment.

Early Evening, Day One: I told my husband I’d brought home a vibrating device designed to make bedtime more enjoyable for both of us.

Later On, Day One: My husband was profoundly disappointed to learn it was an anti-snoring pillow. I described in graphic detail how the internal air bladder expands three inches when the on-pillow microphone detects snoring, so as to gently encourage the sleeper to shift position. He remained unenthusiastic. Men can run so hot and cold!

Even Later Than That, Day One: I couldn’t figure out how to get a pillowcase on the thing and still have access to the plug and controls, which are on either side of the pillow, so I didn’t. My husband got into bed, turned off the lights and found a semi-solid, orthopedic cushion where his pillow usually is. The Nudging Pillow is contoured to follow the curve of the neck and head and ensure ideal positioning. Explaining this to him didn’t seem to help his mood.

Thirty Seconds After That: I cajole him to try it. I beg. I bribe. He grudgingly agrees to a 10-minute trial. The pillow buzzes as he lays his head down. (Apparently, a gruff tone of voice can set off the pillow.) I get up to fetch a glass of water, and as I walk back into the bedroom, I trip over the pillow, which is now on the floor. Dear Snorbert was already sound asleep. And snoring.

Day Two: After husband and children have left the house for the day, I head to my office—which today is my bed—to see for myself how this pillow functions. I replace my regular pillow with what I have now named the Nudger and pull up the covers. The pillow can be adjusted to suit your sleeping preferences, so I inflated the pillow about four inches. (It will inflate up to seven inches if you prefer to sleep upright, like the Elephant Man.) I then close my eyes and pretend to snore. My quiet, kerfuffling noises are ignored by the pillow. So I lay it on a little thicker, snuffling and snorting and making a sound like Kim Kardashian rooting for truffles. Two beats after I finish my noisemaking, the center of the pillow expands, and my head gently lolls to the side. A few moments later, the pillow soothingly deflates, and I relax into the pillow. I wake up 40 minutes later.

Evening, Day Two: I have begun to approach the bedtime hour with a fervor that has been missing since before our first child was born, doing everything in my power to set the mood and render my husband unable to resist me (and the pillow). I consider plying him with booze, because nothing ensures a night of raucous snoring better than an evening of drinking. That seems irresponsible, so, cruel mistress that I am, I tempt him with a relaxing glass of warm milk. Then, mumbling something that sounds like “I regret that I have only one life to give for my country,” he rests his head on the pillow and closes his eyes. Success! I quickly follow suit and turn out the lights.

Morning Day Three: I wake up feeling refreshed after a peaceful night. When I am fully awake, I realize my husband is still asleep, snoring, and the cat is at the end of the bed, sleeping on the anti-snoring pillow.

Midday, Day Three: The cat remains sound asleep on the pillow. I inflate and deflate the pillow to see if it will roust him, but no, Cat remains sound asleep. (I should note that he is not snoring.)

Evening, Day Three: I find the snore pillow on my side of the bed. My husband gently suggests I should be the first one to try a full night’s sleep with the pillow. He clinches the deal when he insists I don’t have a genuine need for the pillow. (All con men play to vanity.) Why, the loudest sound I make when I sleep, he purrs, is similar to the gentle coo of a very small mourning dove, so the pillow will just lie there, cosseting me as I slumber. I fall for it hook, come-on line and sinker, and lay my head down. The pillow has a 30-minute delay feature that allows me to fall asleep before it starts listening for my heavy breathing. I find myself quietly worrying (can the pillow hear me thinking?) about sleeping on a pillow filled with electronics, and tell myself that hospital beds are electric too and millions of people sleep in those without being injured. I then start thinking about people in hospitals and get sad.

Before I fall asleep, I adjust the “volume” dial. A built-in microphone listens for snoring, or more precisely, the vibrations of snoring. I want it to be able to pick up even the lightest of my delicate rumbles. I want to get my money’s worth out of this pillow—a not-inconsiderable amount of worth at 150 bucks a pillow.

Morning, Day Four: I awaken around 6:15 a.m. and find my neck bent like a jackknifed tractor trailer on the Long Island Expressway. I curl up on my side and lie very quietly. I didn’t want to upset the pillow any more. My husband wakes soon after with a smile. He has enjoyed a restful night. Mine was something less. I would half-awake when the pillow inflated, wait for it to deflate, and only then sink back into sleep. This is how the North Koreans forced American GI’s to talk.

Ask my husband and he’ll tell you the pillow works great. I won’t be convinced until Snorbert uses it. But if you do try it and find the pillow doesn’t work for you, do not use it for pillow fights instead. The Nudger is heavy, with an oddly stiff, flat bottom, and could knock a person out cold.

On second thought: Maybe I was using it wrong?

Subsequent to the testing of this product in the Gadget Lust labs, it was recalled by the manufacturer for quality control issues.