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New research shows snoring forces partners into separate beds

14 June 2011

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) has delved under-cover to look at the UK’s sleeping habits and research has revealed that over a third (39%) of people sleep in separate beds because of their partner’s loud snoring.

Furthermore, of those sleeping in separate beds, a third (33%) admitted to making this a permanent arrangement, sleeping apart all of the time.

For some people these findings could be more serious as snoring is a common symptom of the sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)*. OSA is caused when the upper airways become repeatedly blocked during sleep. This sleep disruption leaves patients struggling to stay awake during the day.

It is estimated that 4% of middle aged men and 2% of middle aged women have OSA 1, but experts believe the size of the problem is far larger. The British Lung Foundation is now launching an investigation to find out why so many people go undiagnosed. The consequences of this could be fatal with an estimated 20 per cent of all accidents on motorways 2 caused by sleepiness.

Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive for the British Lung Foundation said:

“We all brush off snoring as an annoying habit but we don’t really consider that it could be detrimental to our health. Given that extremely loud snoring is one of the main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), we are urging anyone who is concerned to go to to find out if they are at risk.”

For further press enquiries, please contact Hayley Richardson on 0207 688 5565/ or Tova Turkel on 0207 688 5564/

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Notes to editors:

  • Interviews and statements with case studies and British Lung Foundation spokespeople are available upon request
  • The British Lung Foundation surveyed over UK 2,500 adults aged 16 and over through TNS between 28 April – 3 May 2011. The survey was completed online through an OnlineBus.
  • This year’s British Lung Foundation OSA campaign has been supported by Philips Respironics.
  • * Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is caused when airflow is completely blocked during sleep, preventing air from entering the lungs, and resulting in the patient stopping breathing during sleep. As the airway re-opens a particularly loud snore is common in patients. This often occurs many times during the night causing disruption to sleep and making those affected tired and sleepy during the day. Falling asleep may be irresistible for patients leading to problems in the day and at work. OSA doesn’t only affect partners and given that the average UK household has 1.8 dependent children living with them 3, the entire family can be affected by loud snoring.
  • Typically, middle aged males who have a size 17 inch collar and are overweight are most at risk of the condition. However women are also at risk even if they are not overweight and in children the commonest cause is enlarged tonsils 4.
  • To find out more about the campaign and take the online survey please visit
  • The British Lung Foundation is fighting to help the eight million people in the UK with lung disease. The charity provides support and information to improve the every day lives of people with lung disease. We are also campaigning for better diagnosis, treatment and prevention for now and the future. To find out about the help we provide go to or telephone the British Lung Foundation helpline 03000 030 555.

1 Kryger 2002, Levy et al 2002, McArdle et al 2001, Pack et al 2001, Schwab1999