Do you or your partner snore like a vacuum cleaner? Here, Dr Michael Mosley explains the problem could be down to carrying some extra pounds.
The doctor, creator of the 5:2 diet, explained unhealthy lifestyle factors like being overweight are behind snoring for many people.
While the truth might be hard to accept, the good news is that there are steps you can take to fix the problem and get a good night’s sleep.
Here, Dr Mosley explains how to lose weight healthily to improve your shut eye – and why the size of your neck can help reveal if you’re at risk…
Is YOUR weight to blame for your snoring?
Do you or your partner snore like a vacuum cleaner? Here Dr Michael Mosley explains what the triggers could be and how you can avoid them
There are a number of causes for snoring including our sleep position and the shape of our mouths, but weight and alcohol consumption play a significant role.
Dr Michael Mosley explains: ‘It might sound harsh, but the main reason most people snore is that they are overweight.
‘If you are a woman with a neck size over 16 inches, or a man with a neck size over 17 inches, you are almost certainly a snorer.’
Why snoring gets worse as you get older
Dr Michael Mosley explains: ‘The uncomfortable truth is, as we get older and fatter, we snore more.
‘That’s because our throat gets narrower, our throat muscles get weaker and our uvula, which is that finger-like bit of tissue that hangs down at the back of our throat, gets floppier.
Dr Michael Mosley explains: ‘It might sound harsh, but the main reason most people snore is that they are overweight’
‘All these changes mean that when we breathe in, the air can’t move freely through our nose and throat and into our lungs.’
Why it’s MORE difficult to lose weight if you’re a snorer…
Weight gain increases the risk and intensity of snoring.
Dr Mosely suggests: ‘The best solution is often to lose weight. Men tend to store fat around the neck, compressing the airways. If you have a larger neck and can lose a few kilos, you (and your partner) should notice a big improvement.’
He explained that while this seems simple it is often made more difficult for people who snore to lose weight as broken sleep can lead to altered appetite hormones and a craving for sweet food, which can lead to weight gain.
The doctor said: ‘Most people who snore find themselves in a Catch-22 situation where snoring causes fragmented sleep, which then disrupts appetite hormones and blood sugar levels.
‘This will disrupt your sleep and your partner’s sleep as well. There is now a lot of evidence that people who sleep less than seven hours a night are more likely to become overweight or obese and develop type 2 diabetes than those who sleep well.
‘One reason is that sleep deprivation alters your appetite hormones, making you more likely to feel hungry and less likely to feel full. It certainly makes you more likely to crave sweet foods.’
Not only do your blood sugar levels soar and your hunger hormones send your cravings haywire, tiredness can also send you on a frantic hunt to the fridge.
He added: ‘When you’re tired the areas of your brain associated with reward also become more active.
‘In other words, you become much more motivated than normal to seek out unhealthy foods such as crisps and chocolate.
‘In fact, a study at King’s College London found that sleep deprived people consume, on average, an extra 385 calories per day, which is equivalent to a large slice of cake.’
Dr Mosley’s diets encourage its followers to embrace the Mediterranean principles of consuming a diet rich in healthy proteins and vegetables and lower in carbs
How to lose those extra pounds
Dr Mosley, a world renowned nutrition expert, suggests the solution is a lifestyle change, which he said personally worked for him when he lost 20lb in 2012 and totally stopped snoring.
He recommends following The Fast 800 plan, which combines intermittent fasting, the 5:2 diet and eating Mediterranean food.
Dr Mosley says: ‘When I put myself on the 5:2 diet, back in 2012, and lost 20lb (9kg), I also lost an inch of fat around my neck, and the snoring stopped. Completely.’
One user of the Fast 800 reports reversing his snoring on the plan: ‘I’ve never followed a diet before and the only reason I did this was it promised significant results in only 2-3 weeks, plus the recipes looked (and are) very tasty.
‘It was worth a shot. I lost a stone in 4 weeks and now have quality sleep, having had borderline sleep apnoea for many years.’
Dr Mosley recommends a combination of intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet for anyone looking to lose weight to reduce their snoring.
A snoring monitoring app shows how losing weight and eating healthily has reduced snoring dramatically for one dieter in less than a month
His Fast 800 plan outlines the approach: For those needing to lose a lot of weight rapidly, there is the ‘super-fast plan’ based on 800 calories per day for 12 weeks.
If you have less weight to lose and want to focus on fitness and a sustainable lifestyle, there is a 5:2 plan which is based on 5 days of healthy eating and two fasting days.
Or, if you are already at a healthy weight but would like to super-charge your health, the Mediterranean-style plan a third option.
This science based approach which not only reversed Dr Mosley’s type 2 diabetes, sparked his drive to help create a sustainable, flexible programme, with healthy eating at its core.
Dr Mosley’s diets encourage its followers to embrace the Mediterranean principles of consuming a diet rich in healthy proteins and vegetables and lower in carbs.
Healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts are encouraged and the occasional glass of wine or bite of dark chocolate is allowed, so that people eat well, remain sated and don’t feel deprived.