Researchers from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield studied eight families where a member had the disorder called obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and found that the relatives were much more likely to snore than average.
Dr Simon Wharton, a member of the research team, said: "We now want to conduct DNA tests to pinpoint a gene that boosts the likelihood of a person developing the condition."
Snoring is usually blamed on a short jaw or being overweight, but the findings could explain why people without these problems are prone to the habit.
Finding a "snoring gene" could also help to identify people with OSA, who often go undiagnosed. Sufferers stop breathing for more than 10 seconds up to 10 times an hour, causing loud snores and daytime sleepiness. Around 20 per cent of men in the UK snore; around 2 per cent have OSA.Reuse content