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April 29, 2024 7 min read

Age, gender, and lifestyle choices can cause people to snore. But what about weight—does weight gain cause snoring? And if so, why and how? 

In this detailed guide, we'll examine how weight gain affects snoring. We'll also explore various management strategies for better sleep and health. Read on for everything you need to know about weight gain and snoring. 

The Link Between Weight Gain and Snoring 

The Science Behind Snoring 

Snoring happens when the airways become blocked. As you breathe and try to push air through your constricted passageways at night, the soft tissues in your throat vibrate together, creating the loud, jarring sound we know as snoring. But what about weight gain; can it cause snoring? The answer: maybe. 

Snoring causes diagram

Snoring and weight are interconnected. While excess weight doesn’t always cause snoring, people who are overweight and obese are at greater risk of snoring and sleep-related breathing disorders. But why exactly do fat people snore?

Obesity and Respiratory Function 

When you have extra fatty tissue around your neck and throat area, it can block your upper airways when lying down. This compression increases your chances of snoring. 

Excessive fat around your waist can also push up your diaphragm and restrict the airflow through your lungs. This reduced airflow can then cause your throat to collapse. Thus also causing snoring. 

Health Risks Associated with Snoring and Obesity 

Sleep Apnea and Its Dangers 

Snoring, particularly loud snoring, is one of the  most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This sleep disorder occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked, causing breathing to stop for short periods. 

Being overweight increases the risk of OSA and can also make the disorder’s symptoms worse. Research shows that people who are obese are  seven times more likely to have OSA. If left untreated, OSA can significantly impact your health. 

Studies have shown that if undiagnosed and untreated, OSA can cause daytime sleepiness, workplace errors, and traffic accidents. Over time, it can also lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, metabolic disease, and a shortened lifespan. 

Broader Health Implications 

Even without OSA as a factor, snoring and obesity can lead to serious health risks. In 2001,  a Toronto study followed the snoring and medical conditions of members of four different family practices. It found that men and women who were 50+ years of age and snored were twice as likely to have high blood pressure than patients who did not snore. Obese men, in particular, who snored and smoked were four times at greater risk for high blood pressure than non-snorers. 

Another study followed men between the ages of 30 and 69 from 1984 to 1994. During these ten years, researchers found that 5.4% of men who habitually snored had developed diabetes compared to 2.4% of men who did not habitually snore. For habitual snorers who were also obese, 13.5% had developed diabetes in comparison with 8.6% of non-snoring obese men. 

Health risks associated with snoring and obesity

Evaluating Your Risk 

Assessing Personal Risk Factors 

Body mass index (BMI) estimates body fat based on height and weight. It’s one way to screen your risk for diseases, such as type 2 diseases, cancer, and heart disease, that may occur with increased body fat.  According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, individuals with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight. Those with a BMI of 30 and above are considered obese. 

Measuring the circumference of your neck is another potentially helpful screening tool for overweight/obesity.  Research shows that calculating overweight/obesity using this method should follow these guidelines: men with a neck circumference of 35.5 centimeters and greater and women with a neck circumference of 32 centimeters are considered overweight/obese. 

When to Seek Medical Advice 

If your sleep quality is poor and you believe it's related to your weight, seek medical help from a doctor or sleep specialist. There could be  an underlying condition, like hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome, causing your weight gain and snoring. 

Similarly, sleep disorders like OSA could be triggering your snoring and disrupting your sleep. Talk with a healthcare professional if you're experiencing any symptoms like pauses in breath at night, exceptionally loud snoring, and daytime drowsiness. To evaluate the cause of your snoring or sleep apnea, a healthcare provider will perform a physical examination and get your family's medical history. They may also have you do a sleep study to evaluate your sleep cycle and other activity during your sleep, such as heart rate and oxygen levels. 

Strategies for Managing Snoring Through Weight Management 

Tips for managing through out weight management

Diet and Exercise for Weight Loss 

Incorporating daily exercise into your life is an excellent way to reduce snoring through weight loss. Research also shows that it can help  reduce OSA symptoms. Choose activities you enjoy, such as walking, yoga, or your favorite sports, to stay consistent. Exercising outdoors can also expose you to natural light, which can help you have a consistent sleep-wake cycle and get better sleep quality. 

A healthy diet is another effective lifestyle change for snoring and weight management. In general, avoiding foods that are processed, sugary, and high in saturated fats can help you lose weight. However, the best way to approach weight loss is slowly and gradually. Do this by crowding in more veggies, fruits, and lean proteins versus completely restricting your diet. 

Importance of Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene can aid in weight management for snoring. For instance, a consistent sleep schedule can help you go to bed on time and avoid consuming calories late at night, leading to weight gain. Ensuring you're getting enough sleep can also help prevent hormone imbalances that can cause you to overeat.  Research also shows that sleep deprivation can make you more likely to choose high-calorie foods. 

Other healthy sleep habits include shutting off your electronics at least an hour before sleeping and engaging in relaxing activities like stretching or reading before bed. 

Anti-Snore Pillows

Switching your sleep position is one of the most effortless lifestyle changes for snoring. Science shows that sleeping on your back is more likely to lead to snoring versus sleeping on your side. When you’re on your back, your air passageways are more prone to collapse as gravity pulls the weight of your neck down and blocks your airflow. 

Anti-snoring pillows, like  MedCline’s sleep solutions, keep you comfortably on your side while you sleep. Unlike standard pillows, MedCline’s medically backed sleep wedges support your head and neck with built-in elevation to keep your airways clear. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are most snorers overweight? 

Being overweight doesn’t always cause snoring, but it does increase the risk of developing it and other sleeping disorders.  

Do skinny people snore? 

Thin people also snore, as weight isn’t the only factor. Other contributors include age, gender, lifestyle, medical conditions, and sleep disorders.

Does snoring go away with weight loss? 

Research shows that losing weight can help reduce snoring. One study followed 20 obese men who snored heavily. Men who lost an average of 6.6 pounds experienced a significant reduction in snoring. In comparison, men who lost an average of 16.7 pounds stopped snoring completely. However, some men who lost weight in the study did not see a reduction in snoring, showing that other factors are sometimes the contributors. 

Does belly fat cause snoring? 

Excessive belly fat can push up your diaphragm, restricting airflow, narrowing your throat, and ultimately causing snoring.

Does exercise reduce snoring? 

Regularly exercising can help aid in weight loss and reduce the amount of fatty tissue in the neck and throat area blocking your airway. Exercising is also known to reduce OSA symptoms independently of weight loss, which includes snoring. 

MedCline’s Snoring Solutions

If you’re overweight and struggling with snoring and poor sleep quality, losing weight can help reduce or even eliminate your symptoms. It can also help protect you from developing significant health risks in the future. Exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep hygiene can help you lose weight.  MedCline’s sleep solutions can also significantly provide relief. 

 

Our anti-snoring pillow has a seamless patented design with full-body support and adjustable memory foam stuffing to  address poor sleep patterns. The patented arm pockets comfortably position you on your side while taking the pressure off your shoulder. At the same time, the elevated wedge helps keep your airways clear. 

For more information about how our wedge pillows can help with snoring, head to our  MedCline FAQs or reach out to our team of  Sleep Specialists today! 

Resources:

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Strohl, Kingman P. "Obstructive Sleep Apnea."MSD Manual, Oct. 2022,www.msdmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary-disorders/sleep-apnea/obstructive-sleep-apnea-osa?autoredirectid=20195.

Knauert, M., Naik, S., Gillespie, M. B., & Kryger, M. “Clinical Consequences and Economic Costs of Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.”World Journal of Otorhinolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery vol 1,1(2015): 17-27.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wjorl.2015.08.001

 

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Elmasry, A. et al. “The role of Habitual Snoring and Obesity in the Development of Diabetes: A 10-Year Follow-Up Study in a Male Population.”Journal of Internal Medicine, vol. 248,1 (2000): 13-20. 

https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2796.2000.00683.x.

 

"Aim For a Healthy Weight." National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute,www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/risk.htm.

 

Hingorjo, Mozaffer Rahim, et al. “Neck Circumference as a Useful Marker of Obesity: A Comparison with Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference.”JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, vol. 62,1 (2012): 36-40.

 

"Overweight and Obesity: Symptoms and Diagnosis."National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 24 Mar. 2022,www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/overweight-and-obesity/symptoms.

 

Iftikhar, Imran H, et al. “Effects of Exercise Training on Sleep Apnea: A Meta-Analysis.” Lung, vol. 192,1 (2014): 175-84.https://doi.org/10.1007/s00408-013-9511-3.

 

Greer, Stephanie M, et al. “The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Food Desire in the Human Brain.”Nature Communications, vol. 4 (2013): 2259.https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms3259.

 

Braver, H M, et al. “Treatment for Snoring. Combined Weight Loss, Sleeping on Side, and Nasal Spray.”Chest, vol. 107,5 (1995): 1283-8.https://doi.org/10.1378/chest.107.5.1283.