Snoring – Why it Happens and What it Could Mean for Your Health
Build healthy habits
from your phone
A lot of people snore. In fact, about 45% of people snore some of the time, and 25% of people snore almost all the time. Chances are, you know someone who snores or you are a snorer yourself.
But do you know why snoring happens and what snoring could mean for your health? In this article, we will explore the links between snoring, obesity, and diabetes and explain what you can do to protect your health if you are snorer.
Why do people snore?
Snoring can be caused by many different factors. Common causes of snoring include nasal congestion from a cold or allergies, pregnancy, alcohol consumption, use of certain medications, or the unique anatomy of your face and mouth. In some cases, snoring is a symptom of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
But one of the most common reasons for snoring is being overweight. Research shows a very strong association between snoring and obesity.[3,4] In one study, for example, 56% of the obese subjects reported that they snore regularly.
When you are overweight, excess fat around the neck and throat can compress your airways. When this happens, your tongue may not have enough room in the back of your throat and it can result in the sounds of snoring.
Obesity and snoring – a vicious cycle
So we know that being obese can contribute to snoring, but to make matters worse snoring can also cause you to gain even more weight.[4,6]
There are several reasons for this. For one, snoring disrupts a healthy night's sleep and lack of sleep affects the hormones that regulate your appetite and hunger levels.[4,7] In fact, loss of sleep actually alters your brain function in a way that makes you more likely to choose unhealthy foods that will make you gain weight.
And that's not to mention the problem of sleep deprivation affecting our mental and emotional states. Many people who snore also experience symptoms like sleepiness and decreased attention, concentration, and memory in the daytime.[1,5] When we are sleepy and unfocused, it may be harder to make healthy decisions – possibly leading to unhealthy behaviors that can contribute to more weight gain.
As you can see, there is a vicious cycle here. Being overweight can make you snore more, which in turn might make you even more overweight‚Ä¶ and so on.
Unfortunately, both snoring and being overweight are factors that can put your health at risk.
Why snoring and obesity are dangerous to your health
While there are many different health concerns that can be linked to snoring and obesity, a particularly important one to pay attention to is increased diabetes risk.
Obesity itself is a very well-known risk factor for both prediabetes and diabetes. Being overweight, along with being physically inactive and living a sedentary lifestyle, makes you more susceptible to developing these conditions.
Snoring is another risk factor to pay attention to. Snoring is associated with impaired blood sugar metabolism. When your sleep is interrupted, it can have very harmful effects on the hormones in your body that keep blood sugars in balance. This can lead to improper blood sugar regulation.
People who snore are more likely to get both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.[11-13] Studies show that people who snore are also at a higher risk for metabolic syndrome, which is a condition that includes the symptom of high blood sugar.
Again, this is where the vicious cycle that links snoring and obesity together becomes a problem. The more you weigh, the more you snore, the more weight you gain, the worse your snoring gets‚Ä¶ and the more at risk you become for serious issues related to prediabetes and diabetes.
If you snore because you have sleep apnea, then you are also at risk. Sleep apnea leads to drops in oxygen levels in the body, which can cause damage to your organs and tissues. Sleep apnea is associated with serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease.[2,5]
What you can do about it
If you or a loved one you know snores, it is important to know that it may be more than just a noisy annoyance. Snoring can actually negatively impact your health and may be a sign you are at risk for health concerns like prediabetes or diabetes.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to take control of the situation and reduce your risk.
First, check with your healthcare provider to make sure that your snoring isn't due to an underlying sleep disorder like sleep apnea – which may need to be treated.
Next, focus on lifestyle changes to lose weight and improve your overall health. Physical activity and diet are key. Make sure to move your body more, as higher levels of physical activity are known to protect against both snoring and diabetes risk. And make a point to eat healthier by removing unhealthy, processed junk foods and adding in nutrient-rich, whole foods to your diet.
A healthy lifestyle can help you get back to a healthy weight, which may just get rid of your snoring while at the same time decreasing your diabetes risk.
If you need support losing weight and getting healthy, consider joining Lark's Diabetes Prevention Program. This program provides personalized guidance based on proven methods that can help you change your lifestyle and reduce your diabetes risk.
- Snoring. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/snoring
- Harvard Health Publishing. By the way, doctor: Is snoring bad for my health? Harvard Medical School. Published March 2014. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/By_the_way_doctor_Is_snoring_bad_for_my_health
- Marchesini G, Pontiroli A, Salvioli G, et al; QUOVADIS Study Group. Snoring, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes in obesity. Protection by physical activity. J Endocrinol Invest. 2004;27(2):150-7.
- Krupp K, Wilcox M, Srinivas A, et al. Snoring is associated with obesity among middle aged Slum-dwelling women in Mysore, India. Lung India. 2020;37(3):210-219.
- Rubenfire M. How Chronic Snoring Can Cause Heart Disease. Michigan Health. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/heart-health/how-chronic-snoring-can-cause-heart-disease.
- Zou J, Song F, Xu H, et al. The Relationship between Simple Snoring and Metabolic Syndrome: A Cross-Sectional Study. J Diabetes Res. 2019;2019:9578391.
- Beccuti G, Pannain S. Sleep and obesity. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011;14(4):402-12.
- Greer SM, Goldstein AN, Walker MP. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2259.
- Diabetes Risk Factors. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated March 24 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/risk-factors.html.
- Cho SMJ, Lee H, Shim JS, Kim HC. Association of Snoring with Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases Etiology Research Center Cohort. Diabetes Metab J. 2020;44(5):687-698.
- Wang HB, Yan WH, Dou JT, et al. Association between Self-reported Snoring and Prediabetes among Adults Aged 40 Years and Older without Diabetes. Chin Med J (Engl). 2017;130(7):791-797.
- Xiong X, Zhong A, Xu H, Wang C. Association between Self-Reported Habitual Snoring and Diabetes Mellitus: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Diabetes Res. 2016;2016:1958981.
- Wei Y, Zheng B, Fan J, et al. Habitual snoring, adiposity measures and risk of type 2 diabetes in 0.5 million Chinese adults: a 10-year cohort. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2020;8(1):e001015.