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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March 2005, 00:09 GMT
Women 'too meek' over men snoring
Couple asleep
Men are more likely to wake their partner up if they snore
Women should stand up for their right to have a full night's sleep - even if their partner snores, researchers say.

Those who listen passively to the dulcet tones of their soundly-sleeping partner may be missing out on up to five hours' sleep a week, they say.

University of Surrey researchers, who have spoken to 25 couples so far, found plenty of women snore too - but men are much more likely to wake them up.

Sleep experts said there were ways for people to stop themselves snoring.

Missing out on sleep can lead to sleepiness in the daytime, potentially affecting performance at work and ability to drive safely.

Moving rooms

While snoring problems were reported, none of those questioned, who range in age from 20 to their late 50s, had sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea.

Women believe snoring isn't a 'lady-like' thing to do
Dr Melissa Hack,
British Sleep Society

Men were the snorers in some of the couples, while in others, they were the women.

The research is part of a bigger study into how couples regulate their sleep.

Sue Venn, of the Department of Sociology, said: "Women would just listen to it, or they would disturb their partner just enough so they wouldn't snore, but not so much that they would wake them up."

Some women moved to another room in order to get some rest.

"It is part of the whole role that women take on of being the carer," Mrs Venn said.

"They will often accept snoring in terms of doing what's best for their men. Even when children come along, they continue to do this."

But she said in cases where the female partner snored, men were much more likely to prod or poke their partners until they woke up and stopped snoring.

She added: "Women seem to be embarrassed about admitting to snoring, yet it's important that they - as well as men - seek advice on whether their snoring is damaging their health."


Dr Melissa Hack, chairman of the British Sleep Society, said that women generally tended to sleep more lightly than men, and so often expected they were not going to sleep well.

"In our clinic, we often have to correct that assumption. Everybody deserves a good night's sleep."

Dr Hack said snoring could have a devastating effect on relationships, with some couples splitting up because of it.

She added: "Women are certainly embarrassed at coming forward. They believe snoring isn't a 'lady-like' thing to do."

But she said snoring was simply vibration at the back of the throat. It happens at night because the muscles become floppy.

Snoring can be caused by being overweight, particularly in men. But it can also be due to having thin airways or a jaw which is set slightly further back than normal.

Dr Hack said there were several ways people could tackle snoring.

These included cutting down on smoking or drinking alcohol, adopting different sleeping positions, and using dental gum shields which help hold muscles in place and so prevent snoring.

Your comments

Womens' role of the carer? You're joking. If my husband snores and I can't wake him or stop him by turning him over, he wakes up with bruised ribs.
Karen, Bolton, Lancashire

My husband snores and I used to wake him up all the time to try and get him to stop so I could get some rest, it didn't work because 30 seconds later he'd just start again. We came up with the perfect solution, we now have separate bedrooms and can both get an undisturbed night's sleep that leaves us feeling refreshed, cuts down on arguments caused by us being tired and irritable and has improved our relationship no end. The only problem arises when we go on holiday, two hotel rooms is just too expensive!
Jill, MK, England

What about snoring women? Three of my partners have snored (badly).
Andrew, Northampton

'Women should stand up for their right to have a full night's sleep'. Again, we have the poor 'hard done by' women syndrome. With regard to snoring, I remember my father having to move rooms because of mother's snoring and us kids would be woken-up as well. Yet my father never complained. Women! Deal with it and stop whinging!
Roger, Britain

It's good to see that feminine snoring is also widely recognised. In my house, it's my wife who keeps me awake with the racket. I confess to occasionally closing her nostrils together to force her roll-over and give me some peace. On a few occasions I have also gone to the spare room. I blame the nightly glass of red-wine...
John Glennon, Liverpool, UK

The CPAP mask is the most wonderful invention in the world
Denise Wilden, Maidenhead, UK

My husband has snored for years. We have been married for 16 years and he snored for at least 10 before that. He is overweight but it seems he snored even when he was a normal weight for his height. Things got much worse for me when our daughter was born, with broken sleep from a new baby and him snoring, I felt close to suicide many nights. I even thought of cling film or a pillow over his face, but wondered if the jury would convict me. In the end I filmed him with the camcorder to show him that he stopped breathing as well as snored.

After seeing that he went to the doctor and was referred to the sleep clinic at Oxford. He had to spend a night there being filmed and taped and the results were that he has Sleep Apnoea. He was fitted with a CPAP mask, which is not pretty but it does the job. He now makes no noise at night. The CPAP mask is the most wonderful invention in the world. It is the first thing that gets packed before we go on holiday and I have told him he will come to harm if he dares to try to sleep without it!
Denise Wilden, Maidenhead, UK

I snored for years and my second wife took me to task on it. My doctor was sceptical until my wife came with me and said, "Look. This man has sleep apnoea. What are you going to do about it?". A simple night test confirmed that I have moderate to severe sleep apnoea and I got a CPAP machine which has resolved everything. The overnight test showed that in 6.5 hours of sleep I stopped breathing 200 times. It is a serious condition and snoring is just the tip of the iceberg
Frank Burden, Courtenay, B.C., Canada

I am a Brit married to a Canadian, and I have been actively seeking snoring remedies for both of us. I become very grumpy if I do not sleep well, and thus I just move into the spare bedroom if one of us snores. Its not a remedy to the problem but it is a solution to us both getting a good nights sleep.
Peter, Kabul, Afghanistan

We have a "snoreometer" in our bedroom. My wife says I usually get a 1, but if I've had a drink or two, it can get up to an 8 or 9.
Chris Diffley, Sydney Australia

My partner is a mega loud snorer! I'm desensitising to it a little now and fortunately it's only once a week that I have to listen to it. It doesn't matter if I prod him, he takes one silent breath whilst he moves, then starts snoring again instantly! If we do ever move in together something will have to be done as I refuse to be disturbed every night.
Anya, London, UK

I have spent many hundreds of pounds on all sorts of "cures", been privately treated for sleep apnoea, and still have to sleep, outside in our caravan from time to time.
Gerald Lancaster, Ashford, Middlesex

I am reading this after a sleepless night of listening to my husband snore. If I were to only miss 5 hours of sleep a week I would be happy, but sometimes I'll miss 5 hours a night. Then I'm exhausted the next day. I know he doesn't do it on purpose, but sleep deprivation is a serious issue.
Kathleen, Cape Cod USA

I left my partner over his appalling snoring. It wasn't the fact I was getting two to three hours sleep most nights, it was his refusal to get his problem treated. In fact, despite a family history of severe snoring he refused to accept there was a problem and when I attempted to wake him from his snoring, which sounded like a pneumatic drill, he would be extremely aggressive and claim he hadn't even been asleep! People laugh when I tell them why I left but, lack of sleep through constant snoring is no laughing matter.
Karen, London

I am the snorer in the relationship. I was due to have an operation, but fell pregnant. Since being pregnant, it is 10 times worse. I wake up every morning with a pounding headache due to my sinuses being so narrow. I can snore sitting up. I would do anything not to snore, it is a big problem. My husband wears industrial ear plugs every night. There is light at the end of the tunnel, I will be having my operation in November, I cannot wait! My condition is hereditary, my father and brother have the same problem, it is awful.
Rose, Surrey, England

My husband snores and it keeps me awake. I use ear plugs so that I can get a decent sleep. His snoring is worst in the summer when he gets hay fever. When things get really bad I move to the spare room, but my husband wakes up if I am not there and he comes and gets me because he doesn't like to sleep alone!
Tracey, Surrey

Blimey Tracey, your husband sounds awfully selfish. It's bad enough being woken by his snoring but he wakes you up again when you try to move away from it to get a decent night's sleep yourself!
TR, London


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