Snoring Is Not Harmless: How Snoring Affects Sleep

snoring is not harmless how snoring affects sleep

Snoring is no laughing matter. It’s more than just an irritant or annoyance. In fact, snoring affects sleep in such a negative way that chronic snoring increases your risk for a range of health issues, and compromises the wellbeing of others. It is our hope that learning how snoring negatively impacts sleep will inspire you into action.  

Schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss your snoring patterns to determine whether or not you need support from an ENT or an accredited sleep expert. While sleep apnea is one of the most common causes of snoring, there are many other potential causes. And, contrary to what most people think, you may not need a CPAP machine to breathe easy – and sleep well again.  

Click Here to learn more about CPAP machines as well as other treatment options for sleep apnea. 

So, read up to learn more about how snoring is the enemy of sleep, and then work toward finding your best solution.  

Snoring Affects Sleep And Interrupts Vital Sleep Cycles 

The longer the body is deprived of oxygen via snoring, the more it “wakes itself” to get a good breath in. As a result, continuous snoring means consistent disruption of vital sleep cycles. The average non-snorer spends the night moving in and out of various sleep cycles, ranging from 90- to 110-minutes long, forming a sleep rhythm. We call this the ultradian sleep cycle, and it varies between rapid eye movement (REM) cycles and non-rapid eye movement (NREM).  

Over the course of a good night’s sleep, you go through four different stages of sleep, and four separate REM cycles. Each of the cycles and stages of sleep is responsible for different physiological processes. Any interruptions in these cycles mean compromising your body’s biochemical processes – including things like hormone balance, metabolism, mood regulation, and so on. We recommend visiting’s article, Understanding Sleep Stages and How Snoring Affects Them, to learn more about sleep cycles and what they’re responsible for in terms of physical, mental, and emotional health.  

You (And Your Sleep Partner) Are More Restless 

As anyone who sleeps with a snorer is aware, snoring is a sleep disruptor in its own right. However, snoring also has an effect on your body’s physical motions while you sleep. Someone in the midst of deep, healthy sleep barely moves at all outside minor position changes. However, those who snore often jolt awake, which then causes them to toss and turn until they fall back to sleep. Note: If you sleep with a restless partner, and you are on an old mattress, consider investing in a mattress with memory foam technology, which reduces motion transmission from one side of the mattress to the other. 

Those who sleep with snorers wake up due to the high volume level of the snores, as well as their partner’s active body motions. This, in turn, makes the non-snorer a more restless sleeper. It becomes a vicious cycle where the two of you are waking due to snoring, and then waking up even more due to restless sleeping. 

Studies have shown that those who sleep with people who snore wake up almost as much as their partners. For example, a Mayo Clinic study showed that those with sleep apnea woke up an average of 27 times, and their partners woke up at least 21 times. Another study by the British Snoring and Sleep Apnea Association (BSSAA) estimated that when you measure the amount of sleep a snorer’s partner loses, and you factor that out over an average span of a 24-year marriage, the non-snorer loses about two full years of sleep! 

Diminished Sleep = Diminished Health 

Snoring leads to lost sleep, leading to diminished health. That’s where the snoring pavement hits the road, so to speak. While you may downplay your notorious snoring reputation, there are serious consequences from all that consistently lost sleep. 

Blood pressure goes up 

When your body loses oxygen, as it does when you snore, it immediately begins to compensate. An article by the sleep experts from writes: 

As oxygen levels fall, receptors in the brain are triggered. The result: Your brain sends a message to the blood vessels to increase the available oxygen to the heart and brain so the body can keep functioning. This increase in blood flow puts pressure on the blood vessels’ walls, elevating levels to higher than normal.  

Unlike high blood pressure caused by a poor diet or being overweight, high blood pressure caused by sleep apnea can only be lowered by successful treatment. 

You gain weight 

We mentioned above that interrupting sleep patterns means interrupting essential, biochemical, and physiological processes. This includes the hormones responsible for your body’s metabolic processes as well as stress. The combination of a slower metabolism, combined with increased cravings for sugar (a common response to stress), leads to unhealthy weight gain.  

That becomes a slippery slope since weight gain affects every aspect of your health. In addition to exacerbating existing sleep apnea, weight gain also increases your risks of developing other weight-related health issues such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

You may experience abnormal heart rhythms 

Similarly, chronic snorers often experience abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation. When left undiagnosed and untreated, atrial fibrillation can lead to blood clots, stroke, and other heart complications. Anyone with atrial fibrillation also has an elevated risk of heart failure. 

By getting your nighttime breathing and heart rhythm in check, you give your heart a much-needed break, and that benefits your body as a whole.  

Increased risk of auto- or work-related accidents  

Lack of sleep causes a lack of mental clarity, not to mention excessive daytime sleepiness. After a while, those suffering from lack of sleep become unaware they’re “suffering” at all. Being tired, foggy-brained, and less able to focus on the task(s) at hand begins to feel like the norm. As a result, those with untreated sleep apnea are more prone to automobile and work-related accidents. 

Several studies have been done along these lines. In one 2007 study, the researchers evaluated 316 male truck drivers and their driving records. Of the nearly 100 drivers who were involved in an accident, 20% reported falling asleep at the wheel. Of that 20 %, nearly 80% of them were chronic snorers or had symptoms of sleep apnea.  

Another, more recent article published findings from a meta-analysis that reviewed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and work accidents. Researchers noted that the risk of a work-related accident doubled for employees exhibiting symptoms of OSA. As a result, many employers are beginning to make OSA assessment and treatment a part of their hiring process for drivers, heavy equipment operators, or other jobs where work-related injuries can lead to serious or fatal accidents. 

Compromised immune system 

A healthy adult immune system relies on an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Anything more or less than that begins to throw things out of balance. 

Sleep experts from Mayo Clinic write: 

During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep…your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.  

In addition to fighting infectious diseases, your immune system manages the body’s inflammatory response. A compromised immune system leads to a heightened inflammatory response, which negatively impacts any existing health issues you may have. Treating your sleep apnea may even help to reverse some of the symptoms of existing health conditions by boosting your body’s natural ability to take care of itself. 

Snoring affects sleep and your intimate and personal relationships

The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) has a wealth of information about how snoring and lack of sleep impact both your intimate relationships as well as other personal relationships. Losing sleep impacts mood regulation, which means you can become moodier than usual and may suffer from a shorter temper. You may have a harder time being patient with those around you or you may find yourself falling asleep at the dinner table or in the middle of a long-anticipated movie date, all of which detract from both personal and romantic relationships.  

In an article titled, Is Your Intimate Relationship Suffering Due to Untreated Apnea?, the ASAA writes: 

“…untreated sleep apnea may reduce sexual quality of life (QOL) because of reduced libido and intimacy, erectile dysfunction, and several other mechanisms. People who suffer from sleep debt due to untreated sleep disorders can also experience poor moods, mental health issues, not to mention exhaustion. What’s more, both men and women can become less in tune or cognizant of the needs of their partners.” 

A study conducted by the Sleep Disorders Center at Rush University Medical Center studied whether treating sleep apnea improved the couple’s relationship and quality of life. The following example of how treating sleep apnea can improve marital relationships is common across the board: 

Following treatment, the wife’s quality of life measure jumped from a 1.2 to a 7, meaning the sleep apnea was no longer bothering her at all. Her sleepiness scale, which measures how tired she feels during the day, dropped from 12 to 6. Marital satisfaction scores improved from 3 to 5.8 and the wife’s sleep efficiency jumped from 73 percent to 82 percent. 

And there’s more… 

Those are six of the most negative and potentially damaging effects of chronic snoring and apnea. Additional issues or symptoms of how snoring affects sleep include: 

  • Increased headaches, particularly in the morning 
  • Moodiness and irritability 
  • Dry mouth, which increases your risk of dental issues and gum disease 
  • Chest pain  
  • Depression 
  • Acid reflux 
  • Mental confusion and memory loss 
  • Liver problems in the form of higher-than-normal levels of liver enzymes 
  • Breathing troubles and adult asthma 

Imagine being able to erase or notably diminish all of the above risks and potentials. The great news is, you can. Schedule an appointment with us today so we can evaluate any anatomical causes for your snoring and determine if you have sleep apnea. The sooner you find out why you’re snoring and how snoring affects sleep for you, the sooner we can treat the problem.

We’re Here For You When You’re Ready

Contact the office of Dr. Jerome Hester and schedule an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation and discussion of all potential treatments by an expert in the area of snoring and sleep apnea. We’re excited to show you (and your partner) how great it feels to get a good night’s sleep.