All about snoring

A quarter of Britons snore, and two in three do it so loudly that it keeps their partner awake.

Famous snorers, past and present, include Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor and Tom Cruise.

While it may be a source of comedy, snoring is a real problem that can affect our wellbeing and put strain on relationships. It can force couples to sleep apart and ruin sex lives.

Sleep expert Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre says that snoring is increasing. He blames the trend on alcohol abuse and unhealthy diets.

“Apart from lack of sleep and tiredness, snoring can cause intimacy problems and puts an unnecessary strain on relationships,” he says.

Who's affected by snoring

The noise of snoring is caused by an obstruction of the airway, which results in air turbulence and vibrations when breathing.

Men are twice as likely to snore as women. Middle-aged men are most affected.

Women tend to snore more during and after the menopause, but they're also more likely to snore during pregnancy. This is caused by the hormonal and physical changes that occur during these times.

Lots of children snore because of allergies, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, or craniofacial abnormalities, which may cause snoring to carry on into adulthood if not dealt with.

There’s evidence to suggest that snoring is inherited, with risk factors such as jaw structure, tongue size and airway obstruction passed down from generation to generation.

Lifestyle factors such as drinking alcohol before bed and being overweight can also contribute to snoring.

Read more about how lifestyle can affect snoring.

Risks of snoring

Obstructive sleep apnoea, where a person stops breathing during sleep, often affects chronic snorers.

Prolonged periods of sleep apnoea can result in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart. 

This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Read some self-help tips for snorers.

Page last reviewed: 07/07/2014

Next review due: 07/07/2016


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A quarter of Britons snore, causing misery for partners and potentially putting their own health at risk