Snoring does NOT make you have a bad night’s sleep: Study debunks myth that people with the habit are more tired the next day
- Scientists studied snorers and measured their snores with a microphone
- Their frequency of snores did not affect their sleep quality or daytime sleepiness
- People with obstructive sleep apnoea were excluded from the study
- They are still at a higher risk of sleepiness, the Canadian researchers said
Snoring does not lead to a bad night’s sleep or cause you to be tired the next day, research suggests.
Scientists believe they have now debunked the myth after studying a group of 235 people.
Volunteers had a device containing a small microphone strapped to their face to record how often they snored. The next day, they were all asked to rate how sleepy they felt.
Results showed those who snored a lot were no more tired than other participants. Snoring also did not affect how many hours they slept or how often they woke up.
Snoring does not make you have a bad night’s sleep or cause tiredness the next day, as once thought, according to scientists in Canada
People who suffer with obstructive sleep apnoea were excluded from the study by the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in Canada.
The serious sleep disorder, of which snoring is a symptom, causes you to temporarily stop breathing when you are asleep.
Lead researcher Hisham Alshaer said snoring ‘is not related to poor sleep structure or subjective sleepiness, as long as the person does not have sleep apnoea’.
An array of studies have found people who claim to snore at night also struggle to stay awake the next day.
The US-based National Sleep Foundation states that snoring ‘can cause disruptions to your own sleep’, which can lead to tiredness.
But these studies don’t distinguish people with ‘simple snoring’, and those with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
OSA, where the airways narrow during sleep and interrupts normal breathing, can have a big impact on quality of life.
OSA has been found to increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and car accidents as a result of daytime sleepiness.
WHY DO PEOPLE SNORE?
Snoring is caused by things such as your tongue, mouth, throat or airways in your nose vibrating as you breathe.
It happens because these parts of your body relax and narrow when you’re asleep.
You’re more likely to snore if you:
- are overweight
- drink too much alcohol
- sleep on your back
Sometimes it’s caused by a condition like sleep apnoea, which is when your airways become temporarily blocked as you sleep.
It affects between four and ten per cent of people in the UK, and in the region of 22million in the US, according to estimates.
But there has generally been a lack of research into simple snoring, affecting an estimated 30 per cent of the population.
The team at The Sleep Research Laboratory of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute set out to study simple snorers.
They recruited a group of 235 people who were in the process of getting help for sleep disorders.
Their snore frequency was measured during their sleep. They also had respiratory levels recorded to assess whether they had OSA.
People with OSA were excluded, as well as those with insomnia, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome.
The final 74 participants were divided into three groups – those who snored little, mildly, and a lot.
Their sleep quality and quantity had been measured using a polysomnography, which is used to diagnose sleep disorders by recording brain waves, heart rate, and eye movements.
They were asked to score how sleepy they felt over the day on a scale.
There was no correlation in participants’ level of snoring and how many hours they slept, how often they woke up, or how tired they were the next day.
The authors wrote: ‘The detrimental effect of OSA on sleep quality is well established.
‘Simple snoring is much more common in the general population than OSA, yet, the impact of snoring per se on sleep structure and subjective sleepiness has not been clearly elucidated.’
The results were published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology.
WHAT IS OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA?
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) occurs when the walls of a person’s throat relax and narrow during sleep, blocking their airways.
This interrupts normal breathing, with symptoms including loud snoring, noisy and laboured breathing, and repeated episodes when breathing is interrupted by gasping and snorting.
OSA affects between four and 10 per cent of people in the UK. In the US, around 22 million are affected.
During an episode, the lack of oxygen triggers a sufferer’s brain to pull them out of deep sleep so their airways reopen.
These repeated sleep interruptions can make the person very tired, with them often being unaware of what the problem is.
Risks for OSA include:
- Being overweight – excess body fat increases the bulk of soft tissues in the neck
- Being male
- Being 40 or over
- Having a large neck
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Being in the menopause – hormonal changes cause the throat muscles to relax
Treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as loosing weight, if necessary, and avoiding alcohol.
In addition, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices prevent the airway closing by delivering a continuous supply of compressed air through a mask.
A mandibular advancement device (MAD) can also be used, which is like a gum-shield that holds the jaw and tongue forward to increase the space at the back of the throat.
Untreated, OSA increases a person’s risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks and type 2 diabetes.