Just under a third (4.5 million) who suffer from the complaint are women, whilst the remaining 10.5 of the 15 million sufferers in the UK are men.
The consequential deprivation of sleep has extensive debilitating effects on the health of the people involved.
It is a medically recognised condition and in its worst state, it can actually lead to the untimely demise of its victim.
There is a national association to help those who suffer and one whole week each year is dedicated to the poor unfortunates.
Whilst there is a medical term given to the more serious aspects of the condition (sleep apnoea), for those who are in more danger of being bruised from the frustrated nudging of their partner, it is more commonly known as snoring.
The three main reasons for the rather noisy condition are being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol.
The British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association describes the complaint as ‘a coarse sound made by vibrations of the soft palate and other tissue in the mouth, nose and throat (upper airway).‘ The problem generally only occurs during sleep when the muscles involved are relaxed; allowing the airway to become more easily blocked; and it is this blockage that creates air turbulence when the victim breathes in.
Snoring is not something that can be stopped at will and it would also seem it is a hereditary problem as 70% of sufferers have parents who also snored. However because it is a physical complaint, it is possible to control the affects; all you have to do is find the cause.
This is easier than it sounds as it has to be done by a process of elimination and with the complete cooperation of both people i.e. the snorer has to want to stop snoring; and the silent partner has to go through many more sleepless nights before the cause is discovered!
There are a number of self tests you can do including the Nose Test that involves propping one nostril open with a match stick; or you might try the Tongue Test when you hold your tongue with your front teeth and try to reproduce a snoring noise.
You may find the cause of your snoring is a combination of several factors, or you may suffer from Palatal Flutter which is when your soft palate is vibrating.
There are a host of ‘over the counter’ and mail order remedies guaranteeing silent success, but without being sure of the cause, you may end up with a shelf of useless anti-snoring gadgets! Some of the remedies include nasal or chin strips that will either keep the nostrils open or the mouth closed!
It is not surprising, given the long process of elimination combined with the cost of buying remedies, that 89% of snorers’ partners end up sleeping in another room; although there is some evidence to suggest people sleep less well when alone rather than staying in the same room with their snoring partner.
There is however, a much more serious side of the condition, that of sleep apnoea, recently highlighted by the treatment given to Deputy PM Ed Miliband.
There are three forms of sleep apnoea and it is when the blockage in the airway is so serious, it actually stops the person from breathing. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea to give it its full title, must be treated when the person stops breathing for at least 10 seconds each episode and it happens 10 times each hour.
The person suffers extremely disturbed sleep as the brain registers they have stopped breathing and wakes them up with either a loud snore or snort to start them breathing again.
People who suffer from this are also three times more likely to suffer from other health problems including increased blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes.
There is another less highlighted issue; that of hearing difficulties being caused. The noise of snoring can range from 50dB to 100dB and given that the noise of a lorry is also 100dB, this gives you an idea as to the noise level you may suffer throughout the night that can eventually effect your hearing.
So just what is the answer to this ancient problem? Perhaps one of the marriage vows could be ‘to love honour and sleep without snoring‘ or should you ask for references from previous partners before taking on someone new?
Or you could do as one study carried out by the Rush University Medical Centre in the States suggests and learn to play the didgeridoo – it allegedly helps the upper airways to function more efficiently!