According to a new study, people who snore loudly find it difficult to fall asleep, or wake up feeling very tired, and may have an increased risk of developing heart disease and other health problems.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh studied more than 800 people between the ages of 45 and 74 in regards to their quality of sleep. Those who reported to have snored loudly were twice as likely as quiet sleepers to have developed a metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. This includes high blood sugar, low “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess belly fat.
Sleep problems are “a big deal,” Jordan Josephson, M.D. , an ear, nose, and throat specialist from New York City, told Health.com. “They’re bad for the heart, bad for diabetes, and they lead to heart attacks and stroke. . . . It’s going to shorten your life.”
The participants who had trouble falling asleep, or who woke up feeling tired at least three times a week, were about 70 and 80 percent, respectively, more likely than their peers to develop three or more of the risk factors for heart disease.
25 percent of adults in the U.S. are affected by metabolic syndrome. Obesity is also responsible for the correlation between sleep issues and metabolic syndrome. The new study doesn’t prove that snoring and other sleep problems are the direct cause for the syndrome, but rather that these sleep issues contribute to increasing these risk factors.
“Chronic sleep disturbances may produce high levels of stress hormones and have exaggerated cardiovascular responses, which could lead to changes in blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and weight,” said Wendy Troxel, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Experiments with snoring have shown that body vibrations caused by snoring can increase the damaging inflammation in the lining of the arteries, sites that are directly linked to heart disease.