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Anirudha Karindalam
Anirudha Karindalam

Sleep Tight

'Punishment' of snorer: Rail officials unlikely to lose sleep over incident

railway-ac-berths-commons Representational image via Commons

The next time you constantly make grunting sounds while asleep in a train, be mindful of the fellow passengers or they make you lose sleep over it, literally. And there may be little the Railways can do about it.

It so happened few days ago, that some passengers travelling in the third AC coach of the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus-Darbhanga Pawan Express punished a fellow passenger for snoring heavily and not letting them sleep. Apparently, the passengers told him not to sleep for five to six hours, so that they could sleep peacefully. There was a heated argument over the issue but the passenger who was snoring finally threw in the towel.

Ramachandra, the passenger, had in fact resisted initially, but he had no option but to stay awake the whole night. The chief ticket inspector, who came to know about the incident the next day, asked Ramachandra whether he wanted to file a complaint with the Government Railway Police, but Ramachandra refused and told the ticket inspector that the issue was settled amicably with the passengers.

Snoring in trains, especially in AC compartments, is a common problem that passengers frequently complain about.

Rajen Gohain, Union minister of state for Railways, told THE WEEK, “This was an unfortunate incident that should not have happened. We have asked the Railway Board to study what can be done to prevent such incidents. Let’s wait for their report. Also, action should be taken against people who take law into their hands in trains.”

An official of the Southern Railway in Chennai, said on condition of anonymity that there is nothing that the Railways can do in such cases.

“A train is a common platform for all. All passengers need to adjust with the environment. We have to be a part of the system. There are children making noise, people speaking loudly on mobile phones and snoring in trains. Nothing can be done. If people have so much problem, they should avoid travelling in trains,” he said.

Dr Ganesh Madangopal, a cardiac anaesthetist in Koyili Hospital in Kannur, said that no one should be blamed for snoring. “That is their nature. What was done to the passenger in the train was not right,” he opined.

Madangopal said changing one’s sleep positions could prevent snoring to an extent. “But there is no permanent solution to snoring other than through a surgery,” he said, “The passengers, who snore in trains, always have the option of carrying a CPAP mask with them to stop their snoring from being heard.”

The noises one produces during sleep are the result of a blocked airway. Sleeping on one’s back is considered the worst position for people who snore. In this case, the tissues at the back of the throat fall into the person’s airway and block the air flow.

CPAP or sleep apnoea machines, which can be brought online, senses snoring sounds and increases the pressure to prevent them. CPAP is a blower connected by a tube to a mask and can be placed over the mouth or the nose while a person sleeps. It blows airs constantly, allowing normal breathing in a person. A CPAP machine can be used only after it is prescribed by a doctor. CPAP machines are strictly for sleep apnoea patients.

Pawan Kumar Bansal, former Union railway minister, said to THE WEEK, “In matters like snoring in a train, ministers and governments cannot take action. Just because a person is snoring, he cannot be barred from travelling. Many years ago, I was travelling in a train and the person sleeping in the upper berth was snoring constantly. But I didn’t tell him to stay awake. Such behaviours vary from person to person.”

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