Is Snoring Bad for Your Health?

Jodi Helmer
by Jodi Helmer
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Is Snoring Bad for Your Health?

Your partner isn’t the only one who suffers when you snore. Nights spent sawing logs have been associated with health risks ranging from heart disease and stroke to memory loss and erectile dysfunction.

Snoring is caused when structures inside the throat — either the soft palate on the back of the roof of the mouth or the uvula, the piece of flesh dangling at the back of the throat — flutter, according to Eric J. Kezirian, MD, MPH and professor of otolaryngology at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California. The resulting noise could be a wake-up call.

Studies show habitual snoring is associated with these five health problems:


Snoring is a major symptom of sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by multiple pauses in breathing.

With sleep apnea, the airway collapses or gets blocked; the air that passes through the narrowed airway causes loud snoring. Sleep apnea is linked to other health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart attack and diabetes.

Kezirian calls sleep apnea, “a serious condition,” and says, “if you snore consistently, especially if others have noticed that you seem to hold your breath or gasp for air, you should discuss it with your doctor.”


Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital studied snorers between the ages of 18–50 and found an increased thickening of the carotid arteries, which could be a warning sign for atherosclerosis. Researchers believe the vibrations of snoring cause inflammation of the arteries.

Lead researcher Robert Deeb, MD, said in a statement, “Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored. Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had … other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”


A 2015 study published in the journal Neurology found those between the ages of 55–90, who had sleep breathing problems like snoring and sleep apnea, were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment an average of 10 years earlier than those who did not snore. Snoring and sleep apnea also led to earlier diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease.

Kezirian notes, “There are a number of potential mechanisms, but one key seems to be the drops in oxygen levels that can occur in patients who not only snore but also have obstructive sleep apnea that involves blockage of breathing.”


Snoring can also affect your mental health. Australian researchers found that between 32–53% of patients who snored also had depressive symptoms, a number that’s significantly greater than the national average.

“In my own clinical experience, I have seen great improvements in mood when we are able to treat the sleep disturbances [like snoring] associated with sleep apnea,” says Daniel Root MD, medical director at Oregon Sleep Associates.



Men who snore as a symptom of sleep apnea may have trouble getting and maintaining erections, according to researchers at the University of Rome. In fact, up to 60% of men with sleep apnea also have erectile dysfunction.

“The blood vessels involved in erections and sexual function are small and more vulnerable than the bigger arteries like those in the heart,” Root explains. For this reason, the penile blood flow commonly suffers the consequences first, and then 5–10 years later, more larger vessel disease may appear.”

No one is immune to occasional snoring: A sinus infection or cold, different sleep position or restless slumber can all cause nocturnal rumblings. Habitual snoring is more common in men, those who are overweight, obese and back sleepers.

If snoring is chronic, Kezirian suggests talking to a healthcare professional.

“There are a wide range of treatment options for both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea,” he says, including sleeping on your side and avoiding alcohol within three hours of bedtime to special mouthpieces and continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines. The best way to know what might be right for you is to discuss the full range of options with an expert.


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About the Author

Jodi Helmer
Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer writes about health and wellness for publications like WebMD, AARP, Shape, Woman’s Day, Arthritis Today and Costco Connection among others. She often comes up with the best story ideas while hiking with her rescue dogs. You can read Jodi’s work or follow her on Twitter @helmerjodi.

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6 responses to “Is Snoring Bad for Your Health?”

  1. Avatar Ed Vanwillegen says:

    This is a very strange article. If snoring is a symptom of underlying health issues then the article should be called like that. Now it seems that snoring is bad for your health which to my opinion is bogus.

    Obviously sleep apnea is a condition to take care of. But that’s not the same as snoring nor the fact that if you snore you will get apnea.

  2. Avatar motorcyclekopp says:

    This article is SO a$$ backwards!! Saying that snoring causes heart disease is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life!! If you truly believe that garbage, then you really don’t have a clue about anything!! How about maybe thinking that people snore because of having too much body fat & INFLAMMATION in & around their tonsils, nasal passages, and airways?!?!? And how about maybe thinking that people who have too much body fat & inflammation have more heart disease?? HELLO?!?!? Ever heard of a little something called COMMON SENSE????? I’m loosing respect for Under Armour very fast with all these bogus articles!!

    • Avatar amy.mercado says:

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    • Avatar K. M. says:

      Clearly being overweight could be the problem for some. However, how would you explain the thin people who snore? Heart disease is not always because people are being passive with their health, sitting on the couch 24/7 and eating ice cream. The article did say that, “Habitual snoring is more common in men, those who are overweight, obese and back sleepers.” However, the article was obviously pointing out the five health problems that habitual snoring is associated with….not just being heavy and/or having too much body fat.

      • Avatar motorcyclekopp says:

        I actually completely agree with this article when it states that snoring is ASSOCIATED with the points that this article talking about. My problem is that this article goes beyond just that. It states (and I quote) “the vibrations of snoring cause inflammation of the arteries” -which makes absolutely no sense.
        As for the thin people who snore…. well personally, even when I was at my heaviest, I have always been a relatively thin guy. But the INFLAMMATION in my air passages was enough to cause the snoring & sleep apnea (which a shift to a ketogenic diet remedied through its carbohydrate restriction). Of course with other people, there are other possible causes of snoring as well -including physical deformities from birth or injuries, etc. But that’s not the part that I have an issue with in this article.

  3. Avatar KB says:

    Actually not such a bad article. Snoring is not as innocent as we used to believe. Snoring is part of a complex called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). When there is any resistance in the airway such as underdeveloped upper and or lower jaw, not enough room for the tongue, elongated soft palate, large tonsils….. The resistance is sensed by the brain, the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary-adrenal axis to release adrenal hormones, cortisol, epinephrine minerocorticoids… All of the issues that are described can be affected this release. With release of epinephrine sleep cycles become disturbed and circadian hormone release is interrupted decreasing growth hormone and others. The effects of fragmented sleep cycles can also be dramatic- loss of memory consolidation, anxiety, depression, fatigue. There’s so much more to the story. Many of these patients are not overweight at all but have structural issues that minimize their airways. Snoring is a red flag to developing health issues unless proven otherwise. Keep an open mind, this is not fringe medicine it’s becoming mainstream.

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