[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 11 August, 2005, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
How some people are born snorers
Image of a man sleeping
Four in 10 men are snorers
Scientists have discovered why it is that some people are chronic snorers.

By carrying out head and neck scans of snorers and non-snorers, the Slovenia team found it was down to the shape of the throat.

Snorers have narrower throats and the smaller the opening is, the louder the snore.

Contrary to popular opinion, nasal blockages do not cause snoring though they may "amplify the loudness", the researchers told Chest journal.

What makes a snorer

Dr Igor Fajdiga and his team studied 40 volunteers - 14 were non-snorers, 13 were moderately loud snorers and 13 were loud snorers, according to their spouses.

How loudly people snored was directly related to the extent that their throat narrowed when they inhaled during their sleep - the narrower the throat, the bigger the snore.

A culprit was the soft palate, which is the soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth.

The snorers' soft palates were much bigger than those of non-snorers, meaning it blocked smooth airflow.

Turbulent airflow is what creates the noise.


When we are awake we have enough muscle tone to keep the airways open. However, when we are asleep we lose this tone.

Being older and overweight can make the problem worse.

Posture is a small component, but sleeping on your side may help some
Allen Davey, director of the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association

Surgery is an option, but Allen Davey, director of the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association, said this should be a last resort.

"It's irreversible and extremely painful and it doesn't always work. The long-term results are not terribly good."

He said shedding excess pounds, cutting down on alcohol and avoiding living in smoky environments could help.

Sometimes part of the problem is the tongue flopping to the back of the throat and obstructing airflow, he said.

Mandibular advancement devices - small plastic splints made to wear in the mouth at night - can help to keep the airway open.

"Posture is a small component, but sleeping on your side may help some," he added.

More than 3.5 million people in the UK snore. It's thought to affect four out of 10 men and up to three out of 10 women.

Homespun remedies for snoring
20 Apr 05 |  Magazine

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific