We know that sleep disordered breathing is bad for your health. But it’s often represented as if it’s only a problem if it rises to the level of sleep apnea.
But now a new study makes it clear: snoring itself is associated with serious chronic diseases. This reminds us that snoring should not be ignored. We need to take it seriously if we want to protect our health.
Assessing Health in Urban and Rural Populations
The data for this study comes out of Bangladesh, and it includes a representative sample of over 12,000 adults age 35 and over in urban and rural areas. Because it’s survey-based, the sleep data was fairly simple. People were asked how many hours they sleep on average a night and whether they snore or not.
People were also tested–and had their medical records checked–for such chronic health conditions as:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
The study also lists a catchall category of “other chronic conditions,” but it’s not as clear which conditions those were or how they were used in the analysis.
Strong Association with Snoring
The study showed that chronic health conditions were widespread in this population, with about 18% of people having at least one. About the same percentage of people had sleep problems
Overall, about 18% of people in the study had at least one chronic health condition, with about the same percentage experiencing sleep problems.
Researchers found that snoring was associated with a 20% higher risk of chronic health conditions than those who didn’t snore. The only chronic disease that didn’t show a snoring link was cancer. There was also some association between disrupted sleep and chronic health conditions, but it was a much weaker association, barely statistically significant.
Don’t Ignore Snoring
Many people are inclined to dismiss snoring as a minor nuisance, not a health concern. However, this study shows that may not be wise.
Although it’s possible that the evidence of snoring risk comes from undiagnosed sleep apnea, we don’t have evidence to support that claim. Instead, it seems that it is important to take snoring itself as a health condition, talk to your doctor about it, and get treatment as necessary.