Is Snoring Harmful?

While snoring may seem normal to most people, there are certain health implications to it that we should be aware of.

The Physiology of Snoring

The snoring noise is produced when air pass thru soft tissue in the back of the throat causing a vibration effect. This soft tissue in the throat relaxes when sleeping and can sometimes obstruct airflow.

Is Snoring Harmful?

Snoring unfortunately is a form of obstructive sleep apnea; which is when the airways in the throat becomes temporarily obstructed. Severe snoring disrupts normal sleep patterns and may result in tiredness during the day, brief cessation of breathing and various other health conditions.

If you are known to snore very frequently it is advised that you get a spouse or family member to observe you and look out for the following:

  • Loud and chronic (prolonged) almost every night
  • Snorting noises
  • Brief cessation of breathing
  • Choking
  • Quality of breathing during snoring episodes
  • Waking up/ startling briefly when short of breath

You should Look out for the Following as well:

  • Waking up with a sore throat or excessively dry throat
  • Headaches in the morning or when waking
  • Impotence
  • Fatigue, difficulty concentrating

While not everybody having sleep apnea has snoring as a symptom, and not everybody who snores has sleep apnea. It is beneficial to consult your health professional should any concerns arise.

Sleep Apnea and the Heart

Sleep apnea causes the heart to take extra load and work harder. This in itself is not wrong when done appropriately (e.g Exercise). However forcing the heart to work harder when a rested state is required is harmful.

The way Sleep apnea affects the heart is by increasing the preload phase of the heart rhythm, this causes the left ventricle of the heart to undergo stress.

Severe snoring and sleep apnea could also place our body in a gaseous imbalance state. hypoxaemia (low blood oxygen) and hypercapnia (carbon dioxide retention) can interplay with blood vessels to cause; pulmonary vasoconstriction, arterial stiffness and heart compensation via sympathetic systems (faster heart rates/ BPM).

Can Severe Snoring/Sleep Apnea lead to other health conditions?

Unfortunately sleep apnea is a precursor to various health conditions as obstructed air flow places strain on the cardio-respiratory system of the body. The following may ensue if left uncontrolled:

  • Fatigue
  • Heart attacks/heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation)
  • Mental conditions such as dementia

By Physiotherapist Wayne C. Sun


GOTTLIEB DJ. (2014). Sleep apnea and the risk of atrial fibrillation recurrence: structural or functional effects? Journal of the American Heart Association. 3.

SCHEINMAN MM. (1998). Atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure: the intersection of two common diseases. Circulation. 98, 941-2.

JACOBS, V., CUTLER, M. J., DAY, J. D., & BUNCH, T.J. (2015). Atrial fibrillation and dementia. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine. 25, 44-51.

LATINA, J. M., ESTES, N. A. M., & GARLITSKI, A. C. (2013). The Relationship between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Atrial Fibrillation: A Complex Interplay. Pulmonary Medicine. 2013, 1-11.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]