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 People who snore frequently, even those who don’t have sleep apnea, may be less physically active during the day, new research shows.

“People who snore are also likely to have sleep apnea, but those who snore and don’t have sleep apnea are a largely understudied group,” senior author Michael Grandner, PhD, told Medscape Medical News.

“We found that even just snoring alone can impact health and well-being,” said Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson.

The findings were presented at SLEEP 2022, the 36th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.


A Viscous Cycle

Frequent snoring can signal sleep-disordered breathing, which is associated with a myriad of comorbidities, including increased risk for cardiovascular disease.


Prior studies have shown that sleep-disordered breathing is associated with less physical activity, but few studies have examined this at the population level or in relation to primary snoring.

Grandner and colleagues evaluated the relationship between snoring frequency and minutes of sedentary activity using 3 years’ worth of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Participants reported snoring frequency and sedentary activity.

After adjusting for sex, age, race, education level, and marital status, adults who were frequent snorers (5+ nights per week) spent about 36 more minutes per day sedentary, compared peers who reported never snoring.

In addition, those individuals who were determined to be at increased risk of having sleep apnea had about 54 more minutes per day of sedentary time in the adjusted model.

“Snoring is very common, and it doesn’t just affect the nighttime,” said Grandner.

Snoring can lead to “more tiredness and less energy, which can impact everything from mood to stress to — as we saw — activity level,” he noted.


Commenting on the results for Medscape Medical News, Raman Malhotra, MD, of the Washington University Sleep Center in St. Louis, Missouri, said this study clearly demonstrates how people who snore and people who are at risk for sleep apnea are more sedentary.


This could explain the “viscious cycle” that these patients suffer from, inasmuch as having obesity can lead to sleep apnea, and having sleep apnea can lead to further sedentary lifestyle and weight gain, owing to lack of energy and feeling tired, Malhotra told Medscape Medical News.


“It is important to intervene and treat the sleep disorder to hopefully make people more active,” he added.


The study had no specific funding. Grandner and Malhotra have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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