More than two million Hongkongers may be keeping their households awake with their snoring, according to a survey which found the problem afflicts more than one in three people. Quality sleep is especially hard to come by if you are old, overweight or a drinker, the study found. The likelihood of snoring goes up if you fit the above descriptions because the muscles in your airways are more relaxed, allowing air to pass faster and cause vibrations. Of the 1,000 Hong Kong people interviewed in the telephone survey, 35.8 per cent said they had snoring problems, and most said they had suffered for more than four weeks. Of those who admitted they had a snoring problem, 69.1 per cent were men. Healthy International, a health supplement company, sponsored the poll conducted from June 9 to 25. Chan Ho-chuen, 38, said he started snoring about four years ago. He said he was alerted to the problem after his wife and one-year-old daughter starting putting cotton wool in their ears so they could sleep. 'I think it is a very common problem in Hong Kong,' he said. 'I didn't go to a doctor because I didn't know what kind of doctor would treat this.' Snorers could try losing weight, drinking less alcohol and sleeping on their side, said Godfrey Lo Kwok-fai, an ear, nose and throat specialist. Those with serious problems should be examined to determine whether they suffered from obstructive sleep apnea, which can cause snorers to stop breathing for up to 10 seconds at a time. The problem mainly affects the overweight. People with this condition can use a machine that blows air to dilate their airways. An operation could also eliminate the problem by increasing the size of the airway, Dr Lo said. 'More people have been seeking treatment,' he said. 'The medical field has started being more knowledgeable about this in the past 20 years or so.' Obstructive sleep apnea can affect the quality of snorers' sleep because their brains start telling them to wake up if they have stopped breathing for a long time. Snorers' concentration and ability to remember may be affected the next day. In more serious cases, it can lead to high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. In rare cases, people with heart problems could die. 'People should be more cautious about snoring because it is a health problem, not just a social problem,' said Dr Lo.