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Snoring kills the love life, survey reveals

New research released today reveals the common problem of snoring can seriously impact on a relationship, with one in two Australian women surveyed claiming snoring has damaged their love life.

A national survey of 500 Australian women who sleep with snorers, commissioned by leading sleep technology company Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, highlights the impact of snoring on Australian relationships including:

  • Two in five (40%) women admitted their partner's snoring forced them to sleep in a separate room

  • Three in ten women (31%) said their partner's snoring caused arguments

  • More than one in five (21%) blamed snoring for reducing intimacy levels

  • 30 of the 500 women surveyed said a partner's snoring contributed to the break-up of their relationship (6%)

Heavy snoring can often be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA),1 a common yet serious condition which causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. 2 It is estimated more than one million Australians suffer from sleep apnea, (around five per cent of the population), 3 with two times more men than women affected, 4 however a large number remain undiagnosed.

The Australian Sleep Health Foundation, a new charity set up to educate people on the risks of sleep disorders, said the findings highlight the "challenging social impact" of the condition. Leading Australian sleep expert and chair of the Foundation, Dr David Hillman, said sleep apnea has an obvious impact on a person's work, family and social life. "The sleepiness and snoring caused by sleep apnea can look like laziness and a lack of interest or consideration to the people around them. The person may not be helpful around the house, with the kids, their employment might be in jeopardy and intimacy levels can be affected. This can cause a lot of conflict in a relationship, yet the problem is readily treatable," he said.

Besides choking, gasping and excessive daytime sleepiness, OSA can also lead to serious health complications such as hypertension, heart disease and stroke. The survey revealed many women believed their partner's snoring had an impact on their physical health and fitness (56%), their overall alertness (42%) and their overall mood (44%). Yet, despite this, nearly three-quarters of women (74%) admitted their partner had never sought help or advice to manage their snoring.

Emma Duckworth OSA Clinical Research Manager at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, said the findings did not come as a surprise. "It is estimated that around five per cent of Australians suffer from OSA. However, given that many people are hesitant to seek help for their snoring, it should come as no surprise that the majority of Australians with OSA remain undiagnosed. "Trying to manage sleep apnea is often uncomfortable for many people because of the stigma associated with seeking help and the treatments available."

Such was the annoyance of sleeping with a snorer: more than 50% of women said they would prefer to sleep to the sounds of a dripping tap than their partner's snoring. Nearly one in four of the women surveyed went as far as to say that the noises produced by mating possums (23%) or neighbourhood construction (22%) were more bearable than those of a snorer.

The survey also found:

  • One in two (50%) are woken up at least once a night by their partner's snoring, with nearly one in six (15%) woken numerous times a night

  • Almost four out of five women have elbowed or kicked their partner to try and stop them from snoring (79%)

  • Less than one in seven women had made their partner visit their GP to get advice and discuss treatment options on snoring problems (13%)

  • Less than one in 11 women said their partner had visited a sleep clinic (9%).


1. Sullivan T & Hiller J. Home studies for the diagnosis of sleep disorders. National Horizon Scanning Unit: Horizon

scanning prioritising summary: Commonwealth of Australia; 2007.

2. Harvard Medical School. An Overview of Sleep Disorders. 2007 [cited 25 November 2009]; available from:

3. Sleep Health Foundation

4. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The National Sleep Research Project - 40 amazing facts about sleep. 2000

[cited 25 November 2009]; available from:

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