I admit it, I'm a woman who SNORES… and my husband recorded the full horror on his mobile to prove it!
00:19 GMT, 25 October 2012
To say that I had a rude awakening one morning not long ago is something of an understatement.
As I made my way to the bathroom to shower, my partner called me back, telling me he wanted me to listen to something ‘fascinating’.
Imagining it was probably an item on the Today programme, I turned round and was confronted with something far more disturbing than John Humphrys making mincemeat out of yet another government minister.
Feeling unfeminine: Jane doesn't like to admit she's a snorer, like Phyllis Diller's character in The Adding Machine, pictured
The noise escaping from the BlackBerry he was holding was loud enough to waken the dead. The sound — not unlike that of a vast volcano on the point of erupting — went on for what seemed like minutes before it stopped for a moment and then resumed. It sounded like the rasping gasps of an old man with emphysema.
‘What on earth is that’ I asked.
‘You,’ came the terrifying reply.
In the nine years we have lived together, Robin has often mentioned that I snore, but I have always dismissed his claims by saying I have slept soundly and silently all my life. I’ve told him the noise he heard was probably the heavy breathing of our elderly labrador, who sleeps in a basket at the bottom of our bed.
But this racket — recorded on Robin’s mobile phone the previous night — reached a higher decibel level than anything The Hound Of The Baskervilles could have emitted, and was, I had to admit, most definitely human.
'Snoring is the least sexy thing a woman could ever do in bed'
Faced with the indisputable evidence, I finally had to acknowledge that I was a snorer. It was probably the most difficult admission I have ever had to make.
Because snoring is something that men do — usually overweight, beer-bellied men at that.
Their women might complain about it, but generally it is accepted as one of those awkward bodily functions — like flatulence or burping — which women like to think are strictly male phenomena.
Snoring, you see, is the least sexy thing a woman could ever do in bed. It isn’t the behaviour of a femme fatale. It doesn’t mix with Chanel No 5, Agent Provocateur lingerie and silk sheets.
It doesn’t feature in the great erotic novels of all time. I doubt if Anastasia Steele — in the best-selling Fifty Shades Of Grey — would have dared snore in front of Christian Grey, even if she had managed to fall asleep in handcuffs after a two-hour thrashing.
In the weeks since being presented with Robin’s beastly evidence, I have lost sleep for fear of snoring. I’m terrified my habit lessens my femininity and sexual allure, too.
Until my discovery, I had always assumed — to paraphrase that old saying ‘horses sweat, men perspire but women merely glow’ — that pigs snorted, men snored but women merely snuffled in their sleep.
The kind of woman who would snore, I had always believed, would probably drink a lot of Special Brew, have the build of a Russian shot putter, a hairier chest than Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and more tattoos than David Beckham.
Role reversal: It's usually men who snore with the ratio of men to women snorers 60 to 1 (posed by models)
How could I, with no chest hair, Special Brew or tattoos, come to terms with snorting like a fat old man in the bedroom I’m only 8st, I don’t even smoke, and my only tipple is the occasional glass of red wine.
It has been ingrained in me since childhood that only men snore. Even Sleeping Beauty — who slept for 100 years — did so in delicate silence. And in adulthood, the myth persists. Who can forget the episode of Friends — still endlessly repeated — that’s devoted to Joey’s snoring. In one episode of The Simpsons, the sound of Homer’s snores forces Marge to move in with her sisters.
Science hasn’t helped me feel any better either. My search to prove I am not alone in my warthog-like behaviour turned up clinical research conducted on the subject in the Seventies and Eighties that suggested the ratio of men versus women snorers was about 60-to-one. So, I am a freak.
I decided to look up the names of famous offenders. I found Napoleon Bonaparte, Benito Mussolini, George Washington, Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon were all well-documented snorers. What do they have in common They are all men.
The average noise of a snore is 38 decibels – the same as a refrigerator hum
Nowhere could I find an elegant, slender, woman who has been found to be a snorer.
At the insistence of my partner, I went to see my GP. She explained that snoring can be a symptom of something more serious in men or women, such as obstructive sleep apnoea, caused by a lack of muscle tone in the upper airways, diabetes, a heart condition or even a stroke.
Snoring can also be related to problems in the nasal airways; an allergy, a cold or a sinus infection and deformities such as a deviated septum. Ed Miliband reportedly spent 1,300 on a nose job last year for this reason.
It was said to be a success, and might explain why his previously rather weary-looking wife has been looking so glamorous and smiley lately. To my relief, my GP confirmed I have neither sleep apnoea or a deviated septum like Ed, but suggested my snoring could be linked to my childhood asthma.
She said there was no cure for this so I decided to do more online research.
My internet trawl led me to some NHS research that suggested the ratio of male-to-female snorers is closer to two-to-one than the previously assumed 60-to-one.
It also suggests that female snoring may be even more widespread, as shame stops women seeking medical help. Men, no doubt after being nagged by intolerant wives, are much more likely to seek help than women, and it is suggested as many as 90 per cent of females who might have a serious problem associated with snoring remain undiagnosed.
So, is my problem one of the last great medical taboos, I wonder Am I bravely going where no female has gone before
If this is the case, come on ladies — especially you light-drinking, non-smoking, trim ones — help me feel feminine again and join me in a stampede of solidarity to bring women out of the snoring closet.
Meanwhile, my snoring is damaging my otherwise happy relationship. As the writer Anthony Burgess famously said: ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.’
And sadly, that would seem to be the case. Mornings when I wake up, sweetly spooning my partner in our four-poster bed are a rarity, as invariably I am kicked into the guest room at night.
My only consolation is, like snoring, age also is not gender specific. Maybe in time, as our hearing fails, we’ll share a bed again, and happily snore the night away together.