It’s all in the genes, snorers just can’t help it!

A cure for snoring could have come closer after research which suggests that the condition may be in the genes.

Experts hope the finding could lead to treatments to correct the faulty genes that cause people to snore, allowing them and their partners to sleep in peace.

Researchers studied around 2,000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins.

They were asked whether they snored, whether this disturbed their sleep, if they felt sleepy during the day and if they had experienced restless leg syndrome (RLS) in which the legs jerk involuntarily in the night.

‘No laughing matter’
It was found that participants with an identical twin who suffered disruptive snoring were twice as likely to experience this problem themselves compared to a participant with a non-identical twin who lost sleep due to snoring. They were also one and a half times more likely to feel sleepy during the day and to suffer RLS compared to people with a non-identical twin who suffered these problems.

Identical twins share all their genes, while non-identical twins share 50 per cent.

Dr Adrian Williams, a co-author of the study at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, said the problem of snoring and sleep disorders was a serious one.

“Sleep disorders are surprisingly common and it is increasingly recognised that they can have a devastating impact on sufferers’ everyday lives – they are no laughing matter”, he said.

“They even contribute to road traffic accidents when sufferers fall asleep at the wheel.”

The researchers believe that genetic factors account for half the variation in different people’s likelihood of being a snorer, with other factors such as smoking and obesity explaining the other half.

On the link between obesity and snoring, Professor Tim Spector, of St Thomas’, said there was evidence that people who snore produce more of a hormone called ghrelin which can increase the appetite and may make them overweight.

He believes that one reason why the genes which disrupt sleep may have persisted through the ages is because they make it easier for us to survive in times of intense cold or when food is scarce.

“Poor sleep patterns make people gain weight and retain fat,” he said. “These genes may have helped our ancestors through periods of famine and the Ice Age.”

The findings are published in the journal Twin Research.

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