Snoring in Obese People

What is snoring

Snoring is loud breathing during sleep due to narrowed breathing airways. Generally, the throat muscles are relaxed during sleep and the throat becomes narrow. Breathing in-and-out causes vibrations in the throat’s walls, and it is these vibrations that bring about the well-known snoring sounds. A narrower throat during sleep means greater vibrations which means louder snoring.

The connection between snoring and obesity

Numerous studies have shown how obesity increases the probability of snoring. An obese person is someone with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. The extra weight may seem to be prominent in only one or two regions of your body, but the reality is that fat distributes itself throughout the whole body. The extra fat around the neck and throat makes the airway very narrow, which is the main reason for loud snoring. In addition, any extra fat interferes with muscle tissue and tone. This causes the soft tissues in the throat to lose their firmness, and the vibrating of these floppy tissues increases the level of snoring.

Complications of snoring in obese people

Snoring in obese people can lead to other serious complications including sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and even a stroke. The most critical form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This happens when excess fat and loose tissue cause a blockage in the breathing airway. The person actually stops breathing for short periods (many seconds) at multiple times during the night. Untreated OSA puts a person at risk of other problems including heart attacks and strokes. This is largely due to vital organs (like the brain) not getting proper oxygen. The International Diabetes Federation has also established a clear link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes.

How it can be controlled

The commonest method of controlling snoring and related sleep apnea is by using a device for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This is a mask worn over the nose during sleep, while air is forced through the nasal passage by an air-blower. This provides uninterrupted air pressure down the breathing airway which also prevents the throat from collapsing and blockage. CPAP is great but not a permanent solution to the actual problem. Long-lasting methods of controlling snoring and sleep apnea involve controlling the problematic obesity. This can be achieved most effectively through proper diet and a cardiovascular exercise program. Consult with your healthcare practitioner to determine a regimen which will suit your BMI and body type.

Coping emotionally

Nightly snoring can become an emotional problem especially if it interferes with the quality of you and your spouse’s normal bedtime. Emotions that can arise from snoring in those obese may include helplessness, frustration, depression, anger, and low self-esteem. To cope with this, you must first see that the problem can be resolved as mentioned above. If you are married, there is reason for optimism as you and your spouse can make any necessary adjustments (e.g. the non-snorer sleeping in a different room when awakened).