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Snoring and Weight – Yes, There Is a Connection

Author: Donald Tanenbaum DDS MPH - Board-Certified Orofacial Pain Specialist at New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain

Date: September 6, 2011

My patients often ask me about the relationship between snoring and weight gain. Snoring undoubtedly can be a result of obesity, and obesity can also be a result of snoring. Confused?

Fact: Obesity Causes Snoring

More than 30% of Americans are considered obese, which is having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or more. Excess weight, regardless of its amount or origin, has many effects on your breathing, and in many cases causes snoring.

Though it may feel like all the weight you’ve gained is stored in one or two areas, extra layers of fat actually distribute themselves all over your body! When excess is deposited around the throat and neck area, it can narrow the airway, causing airflow turbulence leading to that annoying snoring sound. Also, as you gain weight, fat displaces muscle tissue and you lose muscle tone. As a result the soft palate and other soft tissue in the throat become floppy and snoring levels rise.

Causes of Snoring

  • Body fat around the throat and neck
  • Loss of muscle tone in the throat and soft palate region
  • Obstructed nasal passages
  • Large tongue

Sleep Apnea and Obesity

Along with snoring, individuals who are overweight are more likely to develop sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition characterized by periods during sleep when your breathing stops completely. As a result your brain is aroused and you wake up. Sometimes breathing can stop for up to 10 seconds! These stoppages in breathing can happen as many as 100 times a night leaving you exhausted in the morning and at risk for heart problems.

Fact: Snoring Causes Obesity

Believe it or not, snoring could actually be the cause of your weight gain or your inability to lose weight.

Nightly snoring prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, leaving you feeling tired and run-down during the day. This lack of energy can keep you from going on that pre-work run or makes you choose the elevator over the stairs. The bottom line is that the weight you’ve gained is a result of sleep deprivation.

In addition in a University of Chicago study, young and healthy students were deprived of sleep for six nights in a row. The sleep deprivation resulted in measurable metabolic changes, one of which was increased hunger and appetite! As your body relies on the energy it gets from a good night’s sleep, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body will crave the energy from somewhere else: usually your refrigerator!

Clearly there is a direct relationship between snoring , a poor nights sleep and overeating!

Is There a Snoring Remedy?

If you’re an overweight snorer, the first step is to try to lose weight. But, if you are so sleep deprived that weight loss is impossible, other options are available. Thousands of suffering snorers (and their partners) have seen extraordinary results from using an oral appliance at night.

Using a custom-made oral appliance (mouth guard) overnight keeps your jaw forward, making air flow into your throat easier. Oral appliances can be used alone, with a CPAP mask, or as an alternate sleep device when using the CPAP becomes monotonous. Most people find that using an oral appliance greatly reduces and even eliminates their snoring.

Please share this article with anyone you care about (or his/her partner) who is dragging around during the day because of a snoring problem at night.

Dr. Donald Tanenbaum has been practicing in New York City and Long Island for over 20 years. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat Sleep Apnea, facial pain, TMJ and TMD problems, muscle pain disorders, nerve pain disorders, tension headaches, and snoring. Learn more here

DISCLAIMER: The advice offered in response to your questions is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. Namely, we in no way offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendation for your particular situation. Our intent is solely educational and our responses to your actual questions serve as a springboard to discussion of a variety of dental topics that come up in a day-to-day dental practice. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified professional.

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