SNORING can be so irritating it can drive a wedge between even the happiest of couples.

It is National Stop Snoring Week – and this has prompted Dr Alison Gardiner, a GP at Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital, to urge those affected by the night time nasal noise to do something about it.

New research published by the Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association suggests 75 per cent of couples are being driven to sleep apart as a result of snoring.

Dr Gardiner said: “Snoring may happen when you are asleep as your muscles relax and partial obstruction can occur.

“While there isn’t a complete cure, snoring can sometimes be controlled successfully and treatment can help to improve it in certain instances.

“The main objective in the prevention of snoring is to keep your nasal passages clear and breathe through your nose rather than your mouth.”

She suggests that small changes in lifestyle can improve things, with it strongly linked to obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption. Losing weight in particular can reduce the fatty tissue around the neck and help the air to flow freely in and out of the airway.

“Change your position from sleeping on your back to your side to prevent your tongue, chin and any excess fatty tissue under your chin relaxing and collapsing your airway,” said Dr Gardiner.

“If you are affected by allergies antihistamine tablets or a nasal spray may help to clear your airways. Smokers should consider quitting as cigarette smoke is an irritant to the lining of the nose and throat, causing congestion which again restricts the airflow.”

“Avoiding alcohol before bedtime can also help prevent snoring. Alcohol causes the muscle tone to relax while asleep even more than usual, partially closing the airway.

“Certain types of antidepressants have a similar effect to alcohol on muscle tone, which a visit to the GP could help resolve. There are many anti-snoring devices available, such as mouth guards or nasal strips, all work with varying success to combat snoring.”