Snoring, so what?
So I snore, so what?
Snoring may be loud and disruptive to your bed partner, but how does it affect you? Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a term that includes habitual snoring and ranges to obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is when you have an obstruction of the airway that cuts off the air supply for at least 10 seconds, reduces your blood oxygen by at least 3%, and at least 5 times per hour.
Many people have both, and most people with sleep apnea don't know they have it. Here, we are going to review the health effects that are linked to snoring, without known apnea. In these studies, they did not require testing for apnea because they were large-scale observational studies.
Snoring associations with disease:
In 1986 those without chronic disease were questioned about sleep duration and habitual snoring. 12,304 participants were questioned when they were younger and re-interviewed when they were over 70 years old. They found that those who snored regularly were less likely to be healthy. About 30% less likely to lack chronic diseases such as "cancer, diabetes, myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass graft surgery or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” in the published report in the Nature and Science of Sleep, 2021. They also found that short or overly long sleep was associated with less healthy aging.
Another study looked at 935 women, aged 43-69 years old with type II diabetes and found that women who snored had cardiovascular and metabolic markers (such as cholesterol and triglycerides) that were unfavorable compared to non-habitual snorers.
Another study looked at new cases of heart attacks in the hospital. They matched them to controls and found a relationship between snoring as little as 3 days per week was associated with heart attacks vs non-snoring or infrequent snoring. Serious snoring was associated with a 77% risk of a heart attack. In the same study, they found that sleeping 6-8 hours a night was associated with the lowest risk of a heart attack. Sleeping more or less than 6-8 hours was associated with higher rates of heart attacks.
A study that looked at cancer survival, and focused on breast cancer survival found that of the 21.230 women with their first primary invasive cancer, sleep duration and snoring were predictors of poor survival. Good sleep (7-8 hours) and night and minimal snoring were predictive of good cancer survival.
The take-home point is that sleep is linked to disease. We know the dangers of untreated sleep apnea are substantial, and whether snoring risk is only associated by means of the high percentage of snorers that have apnea was not proven in these studies.
Good sleep as defined by 7-8 hours a night without significant snoring leads to health and survival, poor sleep duration and snoring are more associated with unhealthy aging.
There is something you can do about it. Refer to prior blogs on sleep apnea, get tested with an at home device if you are generally healthy (if you are generally unhealthy, a sleep lab at a clinic may be more valuable), and treat the condition.
For snoring, we perform the NightLase® procedure which is a laser that rejuvenates the airway and allows the tissues that are too relaxed at night to function better. For apnea, we perform the ApneaLase™ procedure which does the same thing, and treats more zones in the airway, uses more energy, and uses a dual-wavelength laser. Recently we have used the ApneaLase™ on both snoring and apnea because it works so much better than the original NightLase® protocol.
Dr Charles Mok
Sleep Duration and Snoring at Midlife in Relation to Healthy Aging in Women 70 Years of Age or Older. Nature and Science of Sleep 2021:13 411–422. Shi, H. et al
Sleep Duration and Snoring in Relation to Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among Women With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes care, vol 30 issue 5 2007. Williams et al
Sleep duration, snoring habits and risk of acute myocardial infarction in China population: results of the INTERHEART study BMC Public Health volume 14, Article number: 531 (2014) XIe et al
Pre-diagnostic Sleep Duration and Sleep Quality in Relation to Subsequent Cancer Survival. pp495-. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Vol. 12, No. 4, 2016