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Snoring: The (not so) silent killer?

Colin Dang

Snoring: The (not so) silent killer?


Whether you’re doing it, or trying to sleep through it, snoring is the condition with no upside. It has negative health implication, both for those who snore, and those within earshot. Yet it’s rarely discussed in these terms. Time for that to change, says Colin Dix.

If you snore, or live with someone who does, you can probably skip the next paragraph. You already know what comes next. The nightly aural bombardment disturbs the sleep of everyone involved and while we can all get by with less than the optimum sleep pattern occasionally, over time, there is a price to pay.

This blog, written to promote National Stop Snoring Week, associates the condition with multiple potential health problems including hormonal release, glucose regulation, and cardiovascular function, leading to overall poor health. This regularly cited article, based on a peer-reviewed whitepaper, links heavy snoring with coronary heart disease.

Wake up, people!

Please note: any article that concludes with “heavy snoring was associated with an increased risk for case fatality and short-term mortality” will keep many of us awake. Fun fact: the ‘myocardial infarction’ mentioned here translates as heart attack to you and me, and the NHS.  

The problem, of course, is that if you’re asleep – and don’t have a loved one, lovingly digging you in the ribs, and telling you to shut up in a loving way – how will you know if this includes you?

Snoring symptoms

Well, there are signs. The Mayo Clinic lists at least 10, which include “excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, morning headaches, and a sore throat upon awakening.” While we can dismiss one or two symptoms, together they point to one thing, and it’s not something to ignore. If you’re still not sure you snore, the Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association (BSSAA), on the web as ‘’ worked with an American health provider to create this test.

Beyond ‘just’ the window-rattling cacophony of a heavy snorer lies sleep apnoea. The BSSAA define the most common form, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), as the “cessation of airflow during sleep preventing air from entering the lungs caused by an obstruction.” Essentially, your breathing stops and (hopefully) restarts while you sleep. Clearly, that’s not good and needs addressing.

Sleep apnoea ? officially ‘not good’

The problem is that many of the symptoms of OSA are indistinguishable from common-or-garden snoring. OSA sufferers will, however, wake up a lot, make ‘gasping or choking noises’ at night, and suffer mood swings during the day.

Other problems include falling asleep at work, while driving, during conversation or when watching TV, forgetfulness, changes in mood or behaviour and anxiety or depression. While, again, these symptoms are not necessarily definitively sleep apnoea, it’s worth checking out using the BSSAA online test.

Importantly, if you’re pretty sure you do have sleep apnoea, this is beyond the remit of even the most well-intentioned blog. The NHS are clear that if you suffer from stop-start breathing, or gasping, snorting or choking while you sleep and feeling very tired during the day It’s one for your GP.

Coda can help

The best way to cure snoring is to address the health conditions that might be triggering it. These include cutting back on alcohol, stopping smoking and losing any excess weight. We also published a on the issue.  More prosaic suggestions include taping a tennis ball to the back of your nightwear to ensure you sleep on your side, and issuing your sleep partner with ear plugs. No need for you both to suffer, is there?

In conclusion

This is, obviously, a nocturnal issue and in the cold light of day you will probably defer dealing with this until a non-specific time in the future. Our advice is, essentially, don’t. The scholarly article at the top of my blog concludes with “Snoring subjects with acute myocardial infarction more often died during the night.” Sleep well?



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