A nation of snorers

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, the film director Ken Russell and TV pundit John McCririck.

A survey commissioned by hotel chain Travelodge identified five types of snorers:

  • The Snorter: rapid blowing of air through the mouth, and a noise similar to a horse snorting.
  • The Snorchestra: makes long, low snores that gradually build into a deafening noise.
  • The McEnroe: sounds like a tennis star grunting during a match. 
  • The Walrus: makes continuous groaning noises when sleeping.
  • The Old Banger: sounds like a broken car with a spluttering engine.

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.

It’s not only partners who are affected. Obstructive sleep apnoea, where a person stops breathing during sleep, is a disorder often associated with chronic snorers.

Prolonged periods of sleep apnoea can result in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The snoring noise is due to 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 the biggest sufferers, according to the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association.

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.

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

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

Page last reviewed: 31/03/2012

Next review due: 31/03/2014

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Snoring

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