We all snore to some extent, mostly harmlessly,

and it's amusing.

If you have a bit too much to drink you snore even more,

and some of the reasons why people have hangovers

is because they've been snoring too much.

We can be light-hearted about that and it's nothing serious.

As people get older, particularly men over 50,

particularly if they start getting fatter, and I'll come to that,

their snoring develops into something more serious

and becomes obstructive breathing.

So it's not just snoring but it's a gagging sound

where they can't breathe.

In order to breathe they have to momentarily wake up.

There's a huge inrush of air and that's a so-called heroic snore.

You get several of those and the blood oxygen levels are restored to normal

and then the whole thing repeats itself.

And so their sleep is very disturbed.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the same as heroic snoring.

Really this is a medical disorder

which might be life-threatening and is not something to laugh at.

It's life-threatening in the sense that you may be very sleepy in the day

and as a result you might have a serious road accident.

So that's a real danger, falling asleep whilst operating dangerous machinery

or driving a car.

I was driving along the A418

and I suddenly, not feeling particularly tired,

I suddenly woke up going down the wrong side of the road.

Thankfully nothing was coming, or you wouldn't be interviewing me now.

The second time was frightening.

I was coming past a playschool coming out in the village,

so I was watching the children to make sure they hadn't stepped onto the road,

so I was fully alert.

The next moment, gone, without realising it,

and I woke up 50 yards away, about four foot from a brick wall.

I had gone completely out in that time. I could have killed the children.

People who are very heavy snorers are very sleepy in the day

because their sleep is so disturbed, so disrupted

because the snoring is obstructing breathing one way or another

and in order to breathe properly they have to wake up momentarily.

Their wakefulness may only be 20 seconds at a time

whilst they're actually having those loud snores,

and then they go back to sleep again,

but this may occur again after several minutes, several hundred times a night,

so being awake for only 15 seconds as a snorer does,

you've no idea you've been awake.

And they have no idea their sleep is so bad.

They sleep often for quite a long time, nine hours at night,

but they're so sleepy in the day and that's the mystery for them.

That's the worst thing about snoring and sleep apnea,

you've no idea it's happening to you.

You think you're sleeping for long hours

but you're not, you're only sleeping for very short spells.

In my case, I was diagnosed as a moderate sufferer

and I stopped breathing 28 times an hour.

So my average sleep period is just two minutes.

It's more than a tiredness.

You just feel wretched and you don't know how to get from pillar to post.

That's the best way I can describe it.

And it came to the stage where I didn't want my husband to know about it,

so I would take our dogs for a long walk,

and behind us are woods and fields

and I used to put the dogs in a field and go and sleep under a hedge

to try and catch up and go home bright and beautiful again.

When you think sleep deprivation is the first line of torture,

in fact the heavy snorers that are sleep apnea sufferers

are suffering torture every night

because they're not getting enough sleep.

Snoring tends to be more likely in men, twice as likely in men,

particularly men over 50 and particularly if they're obese,

but women do suffer as well.

When you go to sleep at night, all of us,

the back of the throat is an empty muscle bag

which gets a bit flabby, it relaxes when you do go to sleep.

When you breathe in it goes like that, when you breathe out it goes like that.

But if you've got fat round your neck and only lie on your back particularly,

the weight of the fat helps that airway collapse even more,

so even though it goes in and out a bit because you're asleep,

if you've got fat there it goes like that,

so no air can go down there

and the only way to restore the breathing is for you to wake up,

and the tension in the throat opens up and air rushes in, hence the snore.

I tried every simple remedy first that was there

that you can buy off online shops,

people advertising nose clips.

Put these things over your nose and it will cure it. No.

Put things up your nose and it will cure it. No.

Sometimes snoring can be treated by a dental appliance.

At night you put it in your mouth, it's fitted by a dentist,

and it pushes your lower jaw forward a bit

to help keep the back of your throat open.

This is in many cases quite an effective treatment,

almost as good as the nasal CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure,

which is a mask that goes over the nose

and puts air in from the outside, in your bedroom, slightly higher pressure.

You breathe normally

but the slightly higher pressure of air in your nose

helps keep the upper airway open.

It blows the muscles at the back of the throat open a little bit

and you breathe normally.

The sleep deprivation that I've suffered for 30 years went overnight.

From, I think, the following day and certainly within 36 hours

I felt immediate benefits.

Suddenly I'm given the energy of 20 years ago.

I can enjoy life

and back to being the cheerful person I was before all this happened.

So life is good.