Most of the Australians complain about their partners snoring. It has always been present in our society but its incidence has increased in recent decades. Scientists believe that it is associated with a rise in prevalence of obesity all over the world, including Australia.
What This Article Is All About?
The effect of weight gain on snoring is well documented. This article will outline a complex, but strong, relationship between weight gain and snoring. So, if you are worried that your weight gain has aggravated snoring, read on to get a clear idea.
Weight Gain and Snoring – a vicious Cycle
Before outlining the correlation of snoring with weight gain, you need to understand the criteria of weight measurement.
|30 and above||Obese|
Body mass index quantifies body fat according to your height and weight. The criterion is as follows:
The rise in the trend of snoring begins when the BMI crosses the normal range. However, obesity depicts a morbid excess of fats in the body. It is a complex disease and aggravates many abnormal changes, including obstructive sleep apnea. The result is excessive snoring during the night.
The correlation between weight gain and obesity with sleep apnea is cyclical. Obstructive sleep apnea and snoring cause poor sleep at night due to a deficiency of oxygen. Inadequate sleep increases the secretion of cortisol and leptin in your body.
Leptin is a hormone that is responsible for inducing hunger and makes you eat. It also raises the tendency of binge-eating and leads to weight gain.
Weight gain makes you lazy and unable to have sufficient physical activity. It so leads to snoring which in turn results in high leptin levels. This vicious cycle goes on until you push yourself to break it.
What Does Research Say About Weight Gain and Snoring?
The relationship of snoring with weight gain been explored extensively.
One study conducted in China concluded that overweight individuals and the urban population have a higher tendency to develop sleep-related breathing problems. These morbidities not only included sleep apnea but many other sleep disturbances that lead to habitual snoring in people. This research also shed a light on a recent increase in the frequency of such sleep problems following a rise in the occurrence of obesity in Chinese adolescents.
Another study indicated the role of obesity in aggravating obstructive sleep apnea, the most common cause of snoring. It showed that a 10% increase in baseline weight of individuals with obstructive sleep apnea prompted a six-fold risk of worsened snoring.
The research has also shown variance in the incidence of snoring according to age group and sex. The risk of men being habitual snorer is twice that of women. However, post-menopausal women are comparatively more prone. Similarly, snoring due to weight gain is more prominent in adults than the elderly population.
How Is Snoring Linked to Weight Gain?
The mechanism by which weight gain worsens snoring is complex. Many factors are responsible for triggering various sequences of events in your body to complete this goal in your body. Some of them are described below, in detail.
#1 Fat Distribution Affects Airway and Chest
The fat distribution in different parts of the body affects your breathing. An increase in these fat reserves due to weight gain results in disturbing oxygen supply and apneic events during the night.
When you gain weight, fats accumulate around your neck and airway. This anatomical modification narrows your air tract by:
- Increasing pharyngeal fats pad and diameter
- Fats accumulation leading to greater neck circumference
- Reducing the tone of muscles and tongue fall
The thin lumen creates turbulence when air passes through it, and the vibration manifests as snoring.
|Sex||Neck circumference significant for snoring|
|Men||Greater than 40cm|
|Women||Greater than 36cm|
Abdominal fat accumulation also aggravates snoring because it increases the severity of sleep apnea. The visceral fat pad pushes the diaphragm upward and reduces your lungs’ space. The diaphragm is the largest respiratory muscle in your body. It has two domes that separate your lungs from the abdomen.
The blue lines covering the liver in this picture represent diaphragm muscle. As you gain weight, the diaphragm moves upward due to abdominal pressure, your lungs capacity reduces and you experience worsening sleep apnea and snoring.
A similar effect on the lungs can also be observed when the fats accumulate on your chest. In this case, the compression is from the above instead of below.
#2 Obesity and Snoring Are Genetically Linked
Weight gain and obesity have a genetic link with your snoring habit. Both these traits go hands in hands and run in families. The gene involved in this relationship is located on chromosome 2. It is responsible for the regulation of leptin secretion in your body. Along with this, it controls your airway ventilation. As both these functions are simultaneously controlled by a single gene, their occurrence tends to affect each other.
The research shows that up to 40% of familial snoring can be attributed to the genetic correlation of obesity and snoring. It also concludes that the severity of obstructive sleep apnea is higher in individuals with obesity genes present in their DNA.
Therefore, weight gain should be avoided so that your genetic makeup does not overpower your peaceful sleep.
#3 Weight Gain Increases the Risk of Sleep Disorders
Obstructive sleep apnea
Weight gain significantly increases obstructive sleep apnea by altering the anatomy of the airway. It…
– Increases Para-pharyngeal and pharyngeal fats
– Thickens soft palateEnlarges tongue
– Thickens lateral wall of the throat
These thick structures narrow the air tract from each side and create hindrance in airflow. This results in vibration and snoring.
Obesity poses a threat to breathing by inducing hypoventilation syndrome. According to research, in hypoventilation syndrome, carbon dioxide levels in your body are high and lungs function poorly. This causes excessively shallow and slow breathing. Due to this, oxygen is deficient in your body and you become vulnerable to obstructive sleep apnea. Most cases of hypoventilation syndrome occur concurrently with obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. It is worse while the individual is lying in a supine position (lying on your back) or sitting.
Upper airway resistance syndrome
Upper airway resistance syndrome is common in individuals with a BMI greater than 30. It involves severe and recurrent snoring during the night coupled with multiple apnea events. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, it affects air entry through nasal passages and reduces the oxygen supply. The air also produces vibration when passes through the throat and results in snoring.
Weight Gain and Snoring in Children
Weight gain has an immense impact on children and their snoring habits.
According to research, the global prevalence of obesity had escalated up to 6.2% in 2010. These figures are expected to reach 9.2% in 2020. The situation is particularly alarming in developed countries. It is associated with a variety of environmental, dietary, and genetic factors, but the results are devastating. One of them is the rapidly increasing frequency of obstructive sleep apnea among children.
According to estimation, 60% of obese children also suffer from snoring.
The severity of obstructive sleep apnea is measured against different criteria in children. For adults, an AHI (apnea-hypopnea index) more than 5 is considered abnormal. However, for children, this value is greater than 1. This means, if your child wakes up more than once per hour during the night, he has a snoring problem.
The reasons for airway obstruction in children include:
- Airway Collapsibility
Children often have underdeveloped neuronal and muscular structures. This increases the collapse of the airway and reduces the tone of muscles during sleep. The nasal passage in children also plays an important role in obstructive sleep apnea. In the presence of functional nasal passage, the airflow is rarely hindered. This indicates an unusual resilience in children; however, weight gain weakens this mechanism. Weight gain increases the soft tissue mass in the nose and throat, leading to obstructed airflow. Hence, children who gain weight experience excessive snoring.
- Tonsils and adenoid enlargement
One of the major causes of snoring or narrow air tract in children is an enlargement of tonsils and adenoids. These are part of the immune system in children and are located in the throat. The recurrent sore throat infections can cause their enlargement.
Since they are present in the entrance of the airway, their large size makes respiratory canal congested from both sides. Therefore, children who have tonsillitis also snore excessively.
The distribution of obstructive sleep apnea in children also depends on ethnicity. Currently, Caucasian children have the highest risk of snoring during the night. On the contrary, Africans and Asians have a low prevalence of snoring. This is also due to the increasing menace of childhood obesity in Caucasians.
Does Reducing Weight Help in Alleviating Snoring?
Considering rife evidence that confirms the correlation of weight gain and snoring, it is imperative to design strategies to deal with the pandemic of obesity.
But the question is: Does losing weight reduce snoring?
The Australian sleep association has made it mandatory for sleep experts to encourage snorers to lose weight and maintain it.
One study conducted by Kanjaste and colleagues assessed the effects of weight loss on snoring and compared the results with the control group who was treated with CPAP. The individuals were followed for 12 months and a weight loss of 13.5% of their baseline weight was observed after a year. Their BMI ranged from 28 to 40 so, safe to say that the participants had representation from overweight as well as obese groups.
The variants of sleep apnea were measured which showed interesting results. As compared to CPAP treated group, the oxygen supply during the night improved significantly in people who had lost weight. This, undoubtedly, confirms the efficacy of weight loss therapy in treating snoring.
However, one problem that emerged was the inability of individuals to retain weight. It was observed that after 2 years, people had regained the weight and experienced severe snoring.
These findings point out the importance of weight maintenance therapies along with weight loss techniques. For that, you need to have a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and an active lifestyle.
Recommendations Regarding Weight Loss
Weight loss is only effective if you do it right. The key is to take it slow but staying consistent so that you do not regain the weight.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), it is recommended to lose 10kgs in 6 months. You will start observing a change in your snoring habit, once you succeed in losing 5kgs. However, with a loss of 10kgs, a notable reduction can be expected.
For maintaining weight, overweight people need to cut 500 to 1000 calories per day from their daily intake.
The Final Verdict
Weight gain and snoring are inter-related and also genetically linked. This complex relationship leads to a direct proportion between the two phenomena. It is more prominent in developed countries due to the high incidence of obesity.
Unfortunately, this also includes Australia. Moreover, the trend of childhood obesity is also increasing each year. This development has pushed the age of onset of snoring towards younger age groups. In terms of sex, men suffer from abdominal obesity more than women and their risk of snoring is twice that of women.
Considering these parameters, weight loss should be a mandatory part of the treatment offered for snoring.
Dr. Muhammad Usman is a Doctor, Nutritionist, Wellness Coach and a Researcher with a deep insight into all aspects of writing related to health and science.