Nice Girls Do It But Never Admit It: Snore

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Nice girls
don’t snore. All you can hear as they doze, silent as angels,
is the rustle of white cotton sheets. They don’t lie with their
nostrils thrown back and rattle the rafters with elephantine snorts.
Except in real life…

People look
at you in a new light when they discover you’re a woman who
snores – the way they might look at you when they see you don’t
shave under the arms.

Yet according
to the British Snoring Association, there are 4.5 million female
snorers in the UK (compared with 10.4 million men). But it’s
hardly something a girl would want to advertise (single, non-smoker,
snores like a bulldozer, looking for same).

Ever since
I was a young girl, I’ve snored. In fact, because of it I even
had my adenoids – the bits of tissue at the back of the nose and
throat – out when I was ten. It made not a tiny bit of difference.
My mother also snored badly and used to tell me it was because we
both had dainty nasal passages. But the sound coming from those
supposedly dainty tubes was like a hippopotamus on a Harley-Davidson.

At Guide camp,
I would always have a tent to myself. When holidaying with friends,
I’d sleep braced for the missiles which flew through the air
to wake me. Desperate, I tried breathing aids and nasal strips –
but nothing made any difference.

As I grew older,
my snoring continued. ‘You want to know how bad your snoring
is?’ asked my husband of two years, Charlie. ‘Ask the
man in the all-night kebab shop three doors down.

‘And every
so often, your snoring stops and there’s a silence while I
wonder if you’re still alive. Then there’s a massive grunt,
which sounds like you’re gasping for air, and it starts again.
It’s disconcerting.’

Of course,
I had sought help. About eight years ago I went to my GP, who sent
me to take part in a sleep study. It was a disaster. The probe to
measure my pulse (apparently, this would reveal what was wrong with
me) was clamped to my finger so tightly that I could not sleep.
After that, I simply hoped the problem would go away.

But a year
ago the symptoms got worse. I’d always wake up feeling hungover,
even if I hadn’t been drinking. I regularly felt so shattered
after a bad night’s sleep snoring that I learned not to schedule
anything important until after 10am.

Tired all day,
I’d nap in the afternoon, and I started to suffer from depression,
which I have since discovered is a common side-effect of sleep disturbance.
Also, although Charlie has always been too gentlemanly to complain,
I knew I was massively disturbing his sleep.

Too impatient
to wait for another referral from my doctor, I booked myself an
appointment with Marianne Davey, the director of the British Snoring
and Sleep Apnoea Association.

She explained
snoring is created by a partial blockage in our nose or throat,
causing vibrations of the soft palate, the tongue or tissue in the

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12, 2009

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