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Annoyed By The Sound of People Chewing? You Might Have Misophonia

Annoyed By The Sound of People Chewing? You Might Have Misophonia

When considering what it is that makes an individual’s blood boil and why it is they might erupt into a fit of rage occasionally, like Howard Beale in the classic satire film Network (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”), there is one rage catalyst most people will fail to associate as a rational reason to behave entirely irrational.

Misophonia.

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This term literally means “hatred of sound”. The clinical diagnosis deals more specifically with a hatred of naturally occurring human sounds. Experiencing rage due to being cut off in traffic is one thing I think we can all empathize with, but people diagnosed with misophonia are lit into fiery rages from the most subtle of human sounds such as people masticating food, chewing gum, or even simply breathing.

These triggers do not require extreme cases like obnoxiously chomping on food with an open mouth, aggressively smacking on gum, or breathing heavily. Everyday sounds like these, which most people do not even notice, are what send those enduring misophonia into an anxiety-ridden fit of rage. It is worth noting, someone with this diagnosis is generally not bothered by their own human sounds and nor do the sounds of animals eating, licking, or breathing disturb them.

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Symptoms of Misophonia

Symptoms include extreme distress, anger, and anxiety leading to a “fight or flight” scenario, in which someone experiencing misophonia will likely have to leave certain settings or face the threat of erupting into a spontaneous rage among friends or strangers, whom would not understand the sudden volatile reaction they would receive for simply biting into a carrot or crunching a potato chip. There is little middle ground, or coping,  when these encounters happen. Here are some testimonials of individuals experiencing misophonia:

  • A married couple who eats their meals in separate rooms of the house they share because the wife cannot bear the sound of her husband eating.
  • Another married couple with a husband who attests that if he and his wife pick up fast food and eat in their car then he has to turn the radio up until all of his wife’s chewing sounds are completely drowned out, leaving them unable to even converse between bites.
  • One account describes a college student suffering from misophonia who briefly details one of her experiences of attending class by explaining, “Immediately after hearing one of my triggers, I become enraged. I become very hot, tingly, and anxious.”
  • Another college student claims assorted mouth noises, sniffling, and gum chewing make her chest tighten and her heart pound. She claims, “This condition has caused me to lose friends and has caused numerous fights.”

A Controversial Condition

Misophonia became an official psychiatric disorder recently when an Amsterdam based research team arrived at the diagnostic classification. It is a controversial condition, little is understood about it, and there is no known cure for it. However, many researchers concur misophonia is linked to other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression.

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Research has concluded that misophonia generally surfaces during adolescence and continues throughout adulthood. While there is no known cure, those experiencing the condition will often wear earplugs, headphones, or make use of anything that will create noise to overcome the subtle sounds that make their blood boil.

Misophonia is most commonly associated with human chewing but also includes severe aggravation towards other actions like whistling, humming, footsteps, tapping objects rhythmically, coughing, sniffling, and throat clearing.

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So, the next time you are in the break room at work eating lunch with coworkers and you find yourself clenching your fists with white knuckles, face reddening, and giving a threatening glare to the person across from you, please try to remain calm, put down the fork, and try to catch your breath. You might have misophonia and no humanly generated sound is too quiet for its quirky, irate sensibilities.

Featured photo credit: Neil Guegan/cultura/Corbis via nymag.com

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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

Sleeping next to your partner can be a satisfying experience and is typically seen as the mark of a stable, healthy home life. However, many more people struggle to share a bed with their partner than typically let on. Sleeping beside someone can decrease your sleep quality which negatively affects your life. Maybe you are light sleepers and you wake each other up throughout the night. Maybe one has a loud snoring habit that’s keeping the other awake. Maybe one is always crawling into bed in the early hours of the morning while the other likes to go to bed at 10 p.m.

You don’t have to feel ashamed of finding it difficult to sleep with your partner and you also don’t have to give up entirely on it. Common problems can be addressed with simple solutions such as an additional pillow. Here are five fixes for common sleep issues that couples deal with.

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1. Use a bigger mattress to sleep through movement

It can be difficult to sleep through your partner’s tossing and turning all night, particularly if they have to get in and out of bed. Waking up multiple times in one night can leave you frustrated and exhausted. The solution may be a switch to a bigger mattress or a mattress that minimizes movement.

Look for a mattress that allows enough space so that your partner can move around without impacting you or consider a mattress made for two sleepers like the Sleep Number bed.[1] This bed allows each person to choose their own firmness level. It also minimizes any disturbances their partner might feel. A foam mattress like the kind featured in advertisements where someone jumps on a bed with an unspilled glass of wine will help minimize the impact of your partner’s movements.[2]

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2. Communicate about scheduling conflicts

If one of you is a night owl and the other an early riser, bedtime can become a source of conflict. It’s hard for a light sleeper to be jostled by their partner coming to bed four hours after them. Talk to your partner about negotiating some compromises. If you’re finding it difficult to agree on a bedtime, negotiate with your partner. Don’t come to bed before or after a certain time, giving the early bird a chance to fully fall asleep before the other comes in. Consider giving the night owl an eye mask to allow them to stay in bed while their partner gets up to start the day.

3. Don’t bring your technology to bed

If one partner likes bringing devices to bed and the other partner doesn’t, there’s very little compromise to be found. Science is pretty unanimous on the fact that screens can cause harm to a healthy sleeper. Both partners should agree on a time to keep technology out of the bedroom or turn screens off. This will prevent both partners from having their sleep interrupted and can help you power down after a long day.

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4. White noise and changing positions can silence snoring

A snoring partner can be one of the most difficult things to sleep through. Snoring tends to be position-specific so many doctors recommend switching positions to stop the snoring. Rather than sleeping on your back doctors recommend turning onto your side. Changing positions can cut down on noise and breathing difficulties for any snorer. Using a white noise fan, or sound machine can also help soften the impact of loud snoring and keep both partners undisturbed.

5. Use two blankets if one’s a blanket hog

If you’ve got a blanket hog in your bed don’t fight it, get another blanket. This solution fixes any issues between two partners and their comforter. There’s no rule that you have to sleep under the same blanket. Separate covers can also cut down on tossing and turning making it a multi-useful adaptation.

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Rather than giving up entirely on sharing a bed with your partner, try one of these techniques to improve your sleeping habits. Sleeping in separate beds can be a normal part of a healthy home life, but compromise can go a long way toward creating harmony in a shared bed.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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