British women are getting noisier in the bedroom – but not for the right reasons.
New figures show that a rising number of women are seeking treatment for snoring, such is their embarrassment about the condition.
Traditionally thought of as an affliction of old, overweight men, experts say women are now as likely to snore as men – and drinking, smoking and obesity are often to blame.
Women in particular do not like to think they snore – there’s a stigma attached to it – yet they account for 40 per cent of snorers,’ says Dr Martin Allen, consultant physician at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, and spokesperson for the British Lung Foundation.
‘It can affect women of any age, though it is more common after the menopause.’
Now, one London clinic has reported treating ten times as many female patients for snoring as it did two years ago.
Women now make up almost a quarter of all snoring patients at The Private Clinic, with younger women making up the highest number of clients.
Fifteen times as many appointments for women in their twenties and thirties were made in 2012, as in 2010.
Dr Myles Black, snoring expert at The Private Clinic on Harley Street, said he was treating ‘more and more’ women for the condition.
‘There are a number of factors that may have contributed to this increase, including weight gain or the heavy consumption of alcohol and smoking, which can all increase your chances of snoring.
‘But I think there is also greater awareness now that snoring is a condition that can be treated very easily.’
He added: ‘Most of the patients I see have decided to seek help because they have exhausted over the counter remedies and devices and have found that none of these have proved effective.
‘Products like nasal strips, mouth guards or pillows which claim to prevent snoring are, most of the time, just not enough to have any significant impact on the patient’s snoring habits.’
Research last year by sleep equipment manufacturer ResMed found that 378,000 women in the UK suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnoea.
Despite all the women in the survey declaring their everyday lives to be affected by their snoring, none said they would visit their GP to discuss the problem or saw it as a health problem.
But experts say many women fail to realise they have the condition — or the health implications it may have.
Snoring has been linked with a slightly increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke.
Snoring is also often a symptom of a serious sleep disorder called sleep apnoea, which can have devastating health implications if left untreated.
And as many a couple will testify, it is also a major source of arguments.
A recent survey from hotel chain Travelodge found that UK couples lose more than 90 minutes sleep a week, just through arguing between the sheets, and snoring was the second most commonly cited reason for arguing in the bed after fidgeting.
Research last year from the Snoring Center of Chicago found that 30 per cent of couples said snoring caused problems in their relationships, while 46 per cent of those questioned would consider dumping someone they were dating if their snoring kept them from getting a good night’s sleep.