Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Snoring, especially loud snoring, is obviously disruptive to your sleep and to the sleep of your bed partner; it often results in your partner complaining and may even end up with you being sent to the spare room or the sofa!

Studies indicate that 95% of snorers say that their snoring bothers their bed-partner1 so it’s an issue that needs to be addressed if only for the sake of your relationship! But snoring could be an indication of an underlying sleep disorder known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).

So why do we snore?
When you sleep, the muscles in your neck will naturally relax. However, for snorers, these neck muscles relax so much that the upper airway between the nose and the throat partially closes. This narrows the passageway in which air travels to the lungs and so causes a vibration in the throat when a breath is taken which produces the sound of snoring.

There are many reasons why our neck muscles may relax too much – tonsillitis, too much alcohol, being overweight, even the shape of your nose and jaw – are just a few possible reasons that could cause your neck muscles to relax and cause you to snore.

Not all snorers have OSA, but almost everyone who has OSA… snores
While snoring can be upsetting for the snorer, and probably irritating for those who are in ear-shot, it’s also often seen as a joke. However, snoring could be an indication of a serious underlying sleep-disorder such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).

In fact, Snoring is a primary indicator of OSA4, which is the most common form of sleep apnoea. Research indicates that there is a link between snoring and sleep apnoea with 3 in 10 men and nearly 2 in 10 women who are habitual snorers also suffer from some degree of obstructive sleep apnoea.5

Snorers who suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea see their muscles relax even more than non-sufferers. Sleep apnoea occurs when the neck muscles relax to a point where they fully obstruct the airways for 10 seconds or more. In severe cases, these obstructions, or apnoeas, can last up to two minutes.

Other clinical studies show that if left untreated, OSA can lead to increased health risk for other conditions such as cardiovascular accidents3, coronary disease5, arterial hypertension7. Even road accidents are more likely for untreated sufferers of OSA8.

So if you snore, or suspect you snore, consider it a sign that something might not be right. Snoring can have many causes so a good place to start is with our online sleep test. It will take less than 2 minutes to complete and you’ll have some information to present your GP should you wish to discuss this further.

OSAhub Snoring and OSA
1 A +A Healthcare study undertaken with 95 patients who wore Narval CC (Equinoxe in France) in 2011.
2 Peepard,T. Prospective study of the association between sleep-disordered breathing and hypertension. N Engl J Med, 342 (2000), pp. 1378-1384.
3 Marin JM, Carrizo SJ, Vicente E, Agusti AG. Long-term cardiovascular outcomes in men with obstructive sleep apnoea-hypopnoea with or without treatment with continuous positive airway pressure: an observational study. Lancet 2005; 365: 1046-53.4 Meslier N, Racineux JL. Ronflement et syndrome de haute résistance. Rev Mal Respir 2004 ; 21 : 2S35-2S42.
5 Young T et al. The occurrence of sleep-disordered breathing among middle-aged adults. N Engl J Med 1993; 328(17):1230–5.
6 Peker Y, Carlson J, Hedner J. Increased incidence of coronary artery disease in sleep apnoea: a long-term follow-up. Eur Respir J. 2006 Sep;28(3):596-602.

The stages of sleep

You reach REM sleep for the first time approximately 90 minutes into the night. Periods of REM sleep start as brief, but REM sleep gets progressively longer throughout the night [...]

Read more

Understanding your sleep

The one single thing we do, as humans, more than anything else is sleep. Whether you’re getting a regular 8 hours or struggling...

Get the Facts on Snoring

Most snorers are blissfully unaware of the effect they have on their bed-partners or others in the same house. While snoring is often seen as a joke it is a…

Read more

What are the risks of Untreated Sleep Apnoea?

While sleep apnoea is best known as a breathing condition that causes poor-quality sleep, untreated sleep apnoea...

Take our online sleep apnoea screening test

ResMed has developed a simple online sleep apnoea test to help you determine whether you may be at risk.