Does How Loud You Snore Affect Your Health?

Does How Loud You Snore Affect Your Health?

May 22, 2024

Recently the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute released a research feature related to a time old argument amongst co-habitators: does how loud you snore affect your health?

Snoring can often be a sign of a more serious condition known as sleep apnea, a common disorder marked by loud snoring and stops and restarts in breathing. Previous thought was the louder the snorer, the worse the sleep apnea. Current and ongoing research is shifting the way we think about snoring.

According to the article “Does how loud you snore matter to your health” by the NHLBI, the prevailing view has been that snoring happens when you transition from a light sleep to a deep sleep. This causes the muscles in the roof of your mouth, throat, and nose to relax. In snorers, the muscles can relax so much that they partially block the airway. This obstruction results in increased air turbulence when a person breathes in, causing the soft tissues in the upper airways to vibrate and make a snoring sound. Yet, researchers have been puzzled by an odd thing: snoring seems to increase during slow wave sleep, when the airway is known to be less prone to collapsing, and it seems less frequent during REM sleep, when the airway is most prone to collapsing. 

In the recently conducted study, 40 patients who either were diagnosed with sleep apnea or believed to have it were hooked up to a mask which measured their airflow as they slept. They also used a catheter inserted down the throat to record the muscle activity of the diaphragm and a microphone to measure the loudness of their snores. 

The researches discovered that mildly collapsed airways generate snoring, and the snores get louder as the airway narrows. The research also showed that snore loudness seemed to be linked with how much effort a person is making to breathe as they sleep. This was surprising to researchers, and leads them to believe breathing effort has an equal or greater role than airway obstruction in generating loud snoring. 

So what does this all mean? Basically, when it comes to snoring, loudness alone may not be indicative of how severe sleep apnea is—and in some cases may be a sign of less severe sleep apnea. 

Researchers are now going to spend time trying to find the why in why some patients snore louder than others. Using this information, they can begin targeting new methods to treat snoring--which may save many snoring bed partners a trip to the couch.

 

 

Visit https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/2024/does-how-loud-you-snore-matter-your-health to read the research feature in its entirety.




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