A study published in the journal Respiratory Research found that the vibrations caused by heavy snoring can lead to injuries in the upper airways. These injuries can make swallowing difficult, which could then lead to developing more serious conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly start and stop while one sleeps.
“Besides the disturbing effects, constant snoring can be a significant health risk. Nonetheless, there are indications that our research will guide towards early preventive measures and in the long term also enhance healing of damaged tissue caused by snoring,” said lead researcher Per Stal.
Researchers from Umea University in Sweden analyzed the uvula muscles of 22 participants referred for surgery because of snoring and sleep apnea. The results showed that snorers and people afflicted with sleep apnea have injuries that can be seen at both the structural and molecular levels.
The team observed that the participants' soft palate – soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth, including the uvula – displayed a loss of nerves and muscle mass. It also exhibited abnormal muscle structure. Additionally, the researchers found that the muscle fibers in the soft palate lacked or had a disturbed organization of proteins. These proteins stabilize the organelles of the muscle cells and support cellular structures related to energy production and muscle fiber contraction.
The researchers also found that the body actively attempts to heal these injuries. They observed the presence of a neurotransmitter responsible for regeneration in the muscle cells of the soft palate. However, the repetitive vibrations from snoring prevent the neurotransmitter from doing its job. This becomes a constant cycle of damaging, repairing, and interrupting, which leads to swallowing dysfunction.
“Present findings have given us a clearer picture of the effects of snoring vibrations, which in turn increase the possibilities of finding ways to prevent damage and enhance the body’s healing processes,” said co-author Farhan Shah.
Now, the researchers are looking to use this knowledge to conduct new trials to help find a way to protect the soft palate and treat vibration damage caused by snoring.
The study shows that snoring not only disrupts sleep but also causes potentially life-threatening health concerns if left unchecked. One way to stop this is by preventing snoring altogether. (Related: Is snoring more dangerous to your heart than smoking?)
Below you can find a few natural remedies to help keep snoring at bay:
Snoring can be detrimental in both sleeping habits and health. Applying these simple home remedies can help you eliminate sleep problems and stay healthy while giving yourself and your partner a good night's sleep.