Is there a connection between snoring and being overweight? Is it true that the fatter you are the more likely you are to snore? We answer your questions.
You hear a lot of talk about the connection between body weight and snoring. But is that all it i talk—or does being overweight really cause snoring?
Actually, the answer may be more complicated than you think. Excess body weight and snoring have an interchangeable connection.
The good news is, if you have a problem with snoring, losing some of your excess flab may be enough to make your snoring stop. It all depends if there are other factors involved such as nasal problems of a lack of humidity in your home.
Loud snoring may also indicate the presence of a potentially dangerous condition known as sleep apnea. Fortunately, losing weight can have a favorable effect on that condition too.
Not that pregnancy is classed as being overweight but snoring is a problem during pregnancy for many women.
All things considered, there’s an awful lot to be said for eating right and maintaining a healthy weight.
What Will I Learn?
- 1 Overweight Vs. Obese
- 2 How Does Being Overweight Cause Snoring?
- 3 Why Overweight Men are More Prone to Snoring than Overweight Women
- 4 How Can Snoring Cause You to Gain Weight?
- 5 Weight Loss as a Tool to Stop Snoring
- 6 Getting to Grips with Weight Loss and Snoring (An Action Plan)
- 7 Final Thoughts
Overweight Vs. Obese
“Overweight” and “obese” are both terms that can be used to describe people whose body weight is greater than the weight that’s considered healthy for someone of their height.
Unfortunately, being “overweight” is not a cut and dried as it may sound. Like obesity, the term invariably refers to someone who is carrying around too much body fat.
However just because somebody’s weight is more than the charts and recommendations say it should be may not mean they are fat or unhealthy.
Many extremely lean bodybuilders are technically overweight for their height. The presence of so much extra muscle would make it impossible for their weight to fall within “normal” parameters.
Having a lot of extra muscle is unlikely to cause snoring, but carrying too much body fat can do it.
In this article, the term overweight refers to someone who has allowed themselves to become fat.
So, what does obese mean? The term always refers to someone who is carrying around an unusually high percentage of body fat.
Obesity and BMI
Body fat percentage is measured in BMI (body mass index). To calculate this you have to divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.
Again, this system has flaws. If you calculate the BMI of many bodybuilders of fitness athletes the figures will suggest they are overweight when they are not.
Someone who has a BMI of 25-29.9 is deemed to be overweight. If their BMI is 30 or higher they are classed as obese.
If you are carrying around a lot of extra body fat and are genuinely overweight or obese it can cause you to start snoring. It will also increase the likelihood of sleep apnea.
The most common form of sleep apnea is OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). Research shows 95% of people who have OSA are snorers.
How Does Being Overweight Cause Snoring?
Snoring occurs when body fat builds up in certain areas of our bodies. Having said that, it’s important to point out body fat build-up is not the only cause of snoring. Other things, can cause it as well.
Nevertheless, is you are overweight and “suffer” from snoring, body fat is probably a big part of the problem. Losing weight is likely to be the best way to improve the situation.
Fat around the neck and throat can compress the upper airway. Especially when you are lying down. This obstructs normal airflow, causing the tissues in the throat to vibrate. The result of this is snoring.
For this reason, many questionnaires designed to assess the risk of sleep apnea ask you to record your neck size.
It’s not just fat around the neck and throat, fat around the midriff can cause snoring too.
The pressure belly fat places on the diaphragm pushes it up. Too much fat on the chest compresses the rib cage. When either of these things happen it can slightly reduce lung capacity.
Let’s face it though, if you are overweight, there’s a good chance you will be hit by both problems at once.
Any reduction in lung capacity will restrict airflow, making it harder for the throat to maintain its shape. The resulting minor collapse in throat tissue causes snoring.
Why Overweight Men are More Prone to Snoring than Overweight Women
Although individual genetics have a role to play in body fat distribution, the areas where men are prone to storing fat also make them more prone to snoring than women are.
Women often gain body fat on the thighs, hips, and buttocks. Men are more likely to grow fat around the neck, chest, and abdomen. As you have just read, any extra fat in these areas is likely to encourage snoring.
How Can Snoring Cause You to Gain Weight?
Now we get to an interesting and little-talked about flip-side in the relationship between body fat and snoring. Yes, it’s true. If you snore it may cause you to gain weight.
That’s not to say it’s not possible to snore at night and remain eternally thin. Plenty of snorers do so. However, snoring still has the potential to influence the body weight of many individuals.
It May Lead to Increases in Calorie Intake
Snoring can cause sleep deprivation. Some people who snore produce so much noise they wake themselves up several times during the night.
Even if they remain oblivious to the commotion in their throats, they may wake up their partner and be rewarded with an elbow in the ribs.
Sleep deprivation can affect your appetite. It can also influence your daily habits in ways that may make you gain weight.
For instance, people who feel extremely tired during the day may start drinking more coke or other sugary drinks to try and stay alert. Energy drinks are another popular option and many of them are very high in calories.
If you are tired you may also find yourself drinking extra coffee.
That’s not the end of the world if you take it black but many people prefer to drink their coffee with sugar and/or cream or milk. That means extra calories.
Drinking alcohol before going to sleep, it may make you start snoring. If you normally snore anyway, drinking alcohol could make it worse. Too much alcohol and snoring are closely related.
Because sleep deprivation robs you of energy, it can also make you more prone to try and boost energy by eating extra food. Especially sweet food.
It May Turn You Into a Couch Potato
Tired people also tend to be less active. That’s not surprising if you think about it. When you feel exhausted you are more likely to crave a night on the couch instead of pursuing sporting interests or getting up and about.
It May Cause Your Hormones to Work Against You
People who are deprived of sufficient quality sleep, be it due to snoring or something else, are more likely to feel anxious and stressed. This causes the release of a stress hormone called cortisol.
High cortisol levels encourage the body to store more fat and begin breaking down muscle tissue for energy instead.
Research shows sleep deprivation can elevate ghrelin levels as well. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. It increases appetite and urges you to eat.
As you can see, there are a surprising number of ways snoring can influence your life and cause you to gain weight.
Then, as if things were not already bad enough, all the extra pounds you put on may make your snoring worse than it was before.
Losing weight is the only way to break the cycle.
Weight Loss as a Tool to Stop Snoring
Losing weight can have an astounding effect on snoring. It works well with sleep apnea too. Research suggests a losing 10-15% of your body weight may reduce the severity of the condition by up to 50%
The results of another study are more interesting still. The study involved patients who had recently undergone bariatric surgery to reduce the size of their stomachs.
Data collected via the study shows a 60% reduction in body fat completely stopped sleep apnea episodes in 86% of cases.
This is not rocket science though. If you presently spend your nights snoring and the problem is due to pressure applied by body fat, it stands to reason getting rid of the fat should stop you from snoring.
Getting to Grips with Weight Loss and Snoring (An Action Plan)
One of the hardest things about losing weight is making a commitment to do so and sticking to it. Unless you are willing to make that commitment you may as well stop reading now.
Still here? Good for you (hefty slap on the back).
There are many weight loss plans. Some people choose Atkins, others prefer Keto or something else. Everyone has the right to follow their own path, but there is no one diet that works for all.
Commitment is the key to success. If you find one plan is not right for you, try a different one instead.
Here are a few weight loss tips:
Front Load your Diet
If you want to lose weight and stop snoring, front-loading your diet can be a good way to do it.
The system involves taking most of your nourishment in the morning and eating very little during the evening.
Many people have had great success by front-loading their diet. If evening hunger is a problem, there are appetite suppressants that can help.
Low carbohydrate diets have very little in the way of sugar and starch. Diets of this kind are very popular. It’s an extreme version but the Keto Diet is a low-calorie diet.
Take a Little but Often Approach to Weight Loss
Big meals can make you feel sluggish and pump your body with extra calories it does not need. Eating several small meals, spread throughout the day, can be a good way to reduce your calorie intake and lose weight.
Avoid Eating Close to Bedtime
Having food in your stomach at bedtime may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. This can prevent you from going to sleep or wake you up if you do.
An addition step you can take is by buying an air diffuser and putting a few drops of an essential oil in. Lavender is particularly good to help aleviate insomnia.
Apart from causing you to start snoring, being overweight can trap you in a vicious circle because each of the two problems can feed the other. Being overweight can make you snore and snoring has the potential to make you even more overweight or obese.
Weight gain and obesity are not the only things that may influence snoring though. It’s a symptom that can be the result of many different health and lifestyle factors.
However, being overweight is never desirable. Even if your snoring is being caused by something else, if you are overweight there’s a good chance it will make things worse.
If snoring is a problem for you and you are presently overweight, it makes sense to try and drop the excess pounds.
If your snoring is due to another factor, such as low room humidity, nasal obstructions, or excessive alcohol consumption, you should try and rectify the situation by taking the necessary steps.
A portable humidifier can add extra moisture to the air and your doctor should be able to advise you on the best way to tackle problems with your nose.
If you know you drink too much alcohol but find it difficult to stop, there are organizations that can help. Again, your doctor should be able to advise you about the options available.
There are also nasal strips, throat sprays, and other products that can help stop snoring. However, any value they offer will be extremely limited if you continue to be overweight.