There’s an old stereotype that overweight people snore more than thin people.
But is it entirely a stereotype – or is there an element of truth?
According to emerging research, the chicken-or-egg scenario of weight and snoring may actually be interactive, with one condition influencing the other and each condition potentially worsening over time.
Here’s the scoop…and what to do about it.
1. Obesity Can Increase Snoring
Let’s start with the obvious: being overweight can increase snoring, and may lead in some individuals to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Why? Because excess fat doesn’t just accumulate in our tummy or thighs. It can build up in the face, around the jawline and around the neck. This means constricted air, particularly when the person is lying down.
Another reason is that fat around the chest and middle will, like the neck and facial fat described above, produce weight on the lungs and the throat when one is lying down. Once again, you have a constriction and potentially obstructed airflow, which results in snoring.
2. Snoring May Increase Obesity
But here’s something REALLY fascinating (and daunting): snoring may actually increase one’s propensity to gain unwanted weight. The reason: interrupted sleep at night can disrupt your delicate hormonal system, and when your hormonal balance is disturbed, any one or more of a number of possible ill effects can result – including a tendency to store fat.
In addition, if you’re waking or partially waking during the night (which you may or may not remember later), you’ll probably be more tired and sluggish during the day. This means you’ll be less active and probably more hungry, as the body instinctively looks for food in absence of ready energy – a logical, but here unwarranted, biological conclusion.
The result? You’re moving less, eating more…and becoming more overweight.
3. A Large Neck Measurement Could Be a Negative Sign
Meanwhile, apparently, a larger neck measurement could mean more snoring, though once again, whether one causes the other or whether both are caused by something else entirely has not been established. Another mystery: whether or not the larger measurement is due to significantly more fat, the correlation appears to remain.
However, given the measurement correlation, adding to whatever your current neck circumference is by increasing in unneeded weight can’t help and my harm you.
The danger zone: greater than 17″ circumference in men, and greater than 16″ circumference for women.
What’s the Solution?
Although the mechanism of each correlation is not always clear, one thing stands out: there is a link between obesity and snoring, in both women and men.
The first thing you need to do if you’re overweight, a snorer, or both, is to get a thorough once-over from your doctor. There could be some underlying issue causing both conditions, or there may be a related issue that the conditions are in the process of worsening.
Once you’ve gotten your doctor’s say-so, yes, it IS time to lose weight. Your doctor can help with this too, or do your own calculations on a free online site (myfitnesspal and fitday are two free sites to track calories, activities and macros – protein, fat and carbs – as well as minerals and other dietary restrictions).
You CAN do this. Every bad night is contributing further to ill health, so don’t wait. Get started now on becoming healthier, and sleeping more easily.