Do more men snore than women? © iStock

Do more men snore than women?

Snoring is partly down to our ability to speak, but who snoozes soundly and who's left enduring the laryngeal lullaby?

Asked by: Miranda Calder, Windsor


About twice as many men snore than women. Snoring is sometimes caused by obstruction of the nose or by excessive growth of adenoid tissue, but some is a consequence of the fact that we humans can speak.

When language evolved our voice boxes had to drop lower in the neck, creating a space behind the tongue called the oropharynx. The tongue, like other muscles, relaxes during sleep and it can then fall into this space, especially if we lie on our back, obstructing breathing or causing snoring. This space is larger in men than women, which may explain why men tend to snore while women are more likely to wake up. The result is that the men stay asleep and keep snoring… while we poor women lie awake and have to endure the noise.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.