It’s not clear how heavy snoring and breathing trouble could bring on cognitive decline. But the study’s authors say research has linked daytime sleepiness to thinking and memory difficulties. It’s possible breathing disturbances mess with sleep in ways that speed the development of common age-related brain concerns.
That’s the bad news. The good news: one type of breathing therapy—called “continuous positive airway pressure,” or CPAP—seems to offset any snoring- or breathing-related brain drain. For this reason, CPAP therapy might be a good idea for people with apnea or a severe snoring habit, says study coauthor Ricardo Osorio, MD, of New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
Here are 5 more reasons to speak with your doctor if you have a serious snoring habit:
Research from Henry Ford Health System in Detroit found a connection between heavy snoring and arterial damage—a major risk factor for stroke and heart attack. While it’s likely that arterial damage leads to snoring, the researchers say it may work the other way around. That is, heavy snoring could actually cause inflammation and damage to your arteries. (Check out these signs of stoke everyone should know about.)
The kind of snuffing and snorting that’s heavy enough to disturb your sleep could also contribute to weight gain, shows a study from the University of Chicago. Sleeping poorly agitates two of your body’s hormones—leptin and ghrelin—that help control your appetite and food cravings, the study authors say. Very heavy snoring is often associated with poor sleep quality and the kinds of metabolic issues tied to obesity, finds another study from Brazil.
People with sleep apnea—a condition often accompanied by heavy, sporadic snoring—are roughly five times more likely to die as a result ofcancer, concludes research from the University of Wisconsin. Breathing difficulties bring about changes to your arteries and blood vessels that may help speed the growth of tumors while offering cancer cells more opportunities to spread, the study authors say.
Blood Pressure Problems
About 70% of people with a common, hard-to-treat type of hypertension also suffer from sleep apnea. Because heavy snoring is one of the most common symptoms of apnea, snoring may also be a sign of high blood pressure, suggests a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Check out these 13 ways to lower your blood pressure naturally.)
Not surprisingly, older men who snore heavily are more likely to suffer from another type of bedroom difficulty: sexual dissatisfaction. Compared to light- or non-snorers, heavy snorers are 2.3-times more likely to say they were unhappy with their sex lives. Loud snoring can mess with both you and your partner’s sleep, leading to less energy and less interest in sex, the study authors say.