Page last updated at 23:35 GMT, Saturday, 17 April 2004 00:35 UK

'Snoring forces me to sleep alone'

Rex Sils
Rex Sils has been snoring for 20 years

Snoring affects 3.5 million people in the UK and is an affliction which can ruin friendships, marriages and lives.

It is an embarrassing condition for sufferers and often an endurance for family and friends.

As well-rested snorers and their bleary-eyed partners mark the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association's national Stop Snoring Week, BBC News Online's Melissa Jackson spoke to one man whose problem has forced his wife into the spare room.

Rex Sils knew he had a problem when he woke up in his armchair one afternoon to find his family sniggering at the sound reverberating from his nostrils.

The 58-year-old project manager from south-east London, has a sense of humour as well developed as his snoring.

"One of the worst moments I ever had after dozing off was on a cross-Channel ferry," he said with a chuckle.

My wife Sue disappears to the spare room every night, seven days a week
Rex Sils, snorer
He recalls: "I fell asleep reading a book and was woken up by people around me laughing.

"I eventually had to move somewhere else on the ferry because it was so embarrassing."

His snoring problem began about 20 years ago after he was involved in a car accident in which he sustained injuries to his nose and cheek.

His long-suffering wife of 21 years has accepted the nightly-ritual of starting off sleeping in the same bed, but taking cover in the spare room when the noise becomes intolerable.

The ear plugs go in every night but cannot protect her from the onslaught.

He said: "My wife Sue disappears to the spare room every night, seven days a week.

Snoring is made worse by
Sleeping tablets
Being overweight
A blocked nose - cold, allergies, nasal polyps

"The spare bed is made up all the time.

"It's very surprising if I wake up in the morning and she is still there. There is always a cold patch beside me.

"She is incredibly tolerant. She has never got upset and apart from the odd dig in the ribs, she hasn't done anything too serious.

"It would be a different story if I wasn't married to someone so tolerant and forgiving about it."

It is probably cold comfort to his wife to know that he sleeps fairly well each night.

Holiday hang-ups

However, he is completely embarrassed by his affliction and when it comes to holidays and weekends away, he has to go to great lengths and sometimes expense to ensure he does not become a burden to others.

He said: "I have often taken a folding bed with me when visiting relatives so that I can sleep elsewhere in the house, to give Sue the bedroom so that she can get a decent night's sleep.

"When we go on holiday we would probably avoid a hotel and go self-catering and build into our plans to have more than one room so that Sue can have a bolthole."

He has tried using nasal clips which help keep the nostrils open and a nasal dilator, but neither had any noticeable effect.

Woman dieter
Being overweight can cause snoring
Being overweight is said to contribute to snoring, and at 18 stone, Rex has vowed to lose weight, in the hope that it will improve his condition.

The noise of snoring is caused by parts of the nose and throat, in particular the soft palate, vibrating as you breathe in and out.

At night, muscles that help keep your airways open relax and become floppy, the airways narrow and vibrate more, so snoring is more likely.

Therefore, anything which makes your airways relax will intensify snoring, including alcohol and sleeping tablets.

However, other factors such as smoking and a blocked nose due to a cold, allergies, and nasal polyps can also make snoring more likely.

The British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association has published a survey on Holidays and Snoring to mark National Stop Snoring Week.

The report found:

• 54% of people have had their holiday adversely affected by snoring

• 41% of people have either booked or considered booking separate rooms on holiday

• 8% of people have gone home early due to snoring

• 23% of people have slept on the balcony due to snoring

• 20% have slept in the bathroom due to snoring

• 43% of people resort to using earplugs on holiday.

Snoring can be eased by following a few simple rules, such as avoiding alcohol late at night and maintaining an ideal weight.

National Stop Snoring Week runs from 19-24 April.


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