Home Health & Wellness Can Snoring Affect Mental Health? Here’s What You Need to Know

Can Snoring Affect Mental Health? Here’s What You Need to Know

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When it comes to the myriad of sounds we hear at night, snoring often takes centre stage. Snoring might seem harmless, but this involuntary act carries more weight when we dig into its effects.

Beyond the surface, there might be a link between snoring and mental health that we’ve been missing. This article is here to uncover that connection and answer a crucial question: Can snoring impact mental health? Let’s dive into what you need to know.

Understanding the basics

There are a few reasons why we snore. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Body anatomy

The anatomy of the upper airway is one of the primary culprits behind snoring. The throat is a flexible passage through which air flows during breathing. When we sleep, the muscles in our throats relax.

However, for some individuals, this relaxation can cause a partial obstruction of the airway. The muscles decide to slack off a bit too much, partially blocking the airway.

When air tries to squeeze through this tight spot, it meets resistance, setting off vibrations that create the well-known snoring tune.

The palate and uvula are dangling structures at the back of the throat. They play pivotal roles in snoring. If they are excessively soft or elongated, they might vibrate during sleep. This intensifies the snoring.

Similarly, a deviated septum, the cartilage that separates the nostrils, can create irregular airflow, also causing snoring.

Extra weight

Another factor contributing to snoring is excess weight. Extra pounds, especially around the neck area, can put pressure on the airway, narrowing the space available for airflow.

This increased resistance can amplify the vibrations in the throat, causing you to snore loudly. By modifying your lifestyle and paying more attention to managing your weight, you can address the root causes of snoring better.

Sleeping posture

The position in which you sleep also plays a role in snoring.

Sleeping on your back tends to encourage the tongue and soft palate to collapse to the back of the throat, making it more likely for your airways to get obstructed and cause snoring.

By making simple changes in your sleeping position, such as favouring your side, you can alleviate or reduce snoring.

Other health problems

Various health conditions can contribute to snoring. Chronic nasal congestion, often linked with allergies or respiratory infections, can hinder the smooth flow of air, triggering snoring.

If you have sleep apnea, where breathing is constantly interrupted during sleep, you are more prone to snoring. So, it is important to first address the underlying health issues to manage and mitigate snoring.

Age

Age is also another factor. As you age, your muscle tone tends to decrease, including the muscles in the throat. This is a natural aging process that can contribute to the throat muscles relaxing during sleep, increasing the likelihood of snoring.

Snoring and mental health

While you sleep, your body goes through an important process to keep you physically and mentally well. This includes fixing cells and organizing memories, setting the stage for a good start when you wake up.

But, if snoring messes with this delicate balance, it can cause a chain reaction affecting mental health. It disrupts the smooth flow through sleep cycles, messing with the important processes that keep your thinking sharp and your emotions resilient.

Studies highlight a strong link between persistent snoring and the development of sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea involves frequent breaks in breathing while you sleep, making the disruptions from snoring an even bigger problem. This is worth mentioning because sleep apnea appears to be a possible early sign of mental health issues, connecting it to conditions like anxiety and depression.

It’s not just about the irritation of a partner’s snoring; there’s a deeper impact on your body. The disrupted sleep quality, especially with conditions like sleep apnea, sets off stress responses.

This, in turn, cranks up cortisol levels, which is commonly known as the stress hormone. Cortisol messes with mood regulation and overall mental well-being.

The complications of oxygen deprivation

Oxygen, or the lack of it during sleep, is a key player in the relationship between snoring and mental health. When you start to snore, it’s usually accompanied by little breaks in breathing.

And what happens next is a bit concerning – there might be a dip in the flow of oxygen to the brain. This on-and-off oxygen supply condition is what experts call intermittent hypoxia.

Now, why does this matter? Well, your brain isn’t supposed to receive a short supply of oxygen.

When it happens, it’s like a wake-up call to your stress responses. They kick into action, throwing your body into a frenzy. This stressful condition doesn’t just stay confined to the night; it spills over into the daytime, too.

Ever had those days when you wake up, and it feels like you’re still overwhelmed with fatigue? That’s one of the side effects of this interrupted oxygen flow – daytime fatigue. But wait, there’s more. This situation also leads you to be very irritable, making life difficult for the people around you.

The cognitive functions, the brain’s fancy term for thinking and processing info, take a hit making it very difficult for you to concentrate.

The stress-hormone connection

Let’s take a look at the aftermath of chronic snoring and its impact on your body’s internal dynamics. You should expect a chain reaction.

Chronic snoring can trigger the release of stress hormones, and cortisol is right in the middle of it all. Elevated cortisol levels are known to heighten your anxiety levels. This results in your stress levels going alarmingly high.

Now, let us talk about neurotransmitters in the brain. These are responsible for keeping your mood in check. But, when cortisol levels go up, it disrupts the delicate balance of neurotransmitters. This makes it difficult to properly regulate your mood.

Cognitive function and memory

Let’s learn about the lingering effects of snoring that extend far beyond disrupting your sleep. According to studies, people who snore at night have to deal with more than just tired mornings – cognitive impairment and memory issues are also a few of the side effects.

Snoring causes frequent breaks in sleep, which plays a role in the memory game. The brain struggles to glue together bits of information, both for the short term and the long haul. This constant interruption in the sleep routine becomes a bit of a memory stumbling block.

When we talk about cognitive functions, we’re delving into the brain’s ability to think, reason, and process information. Now, snoring has an effect here too. Those repeated sleep interruptions act like roadblocks, slowing down the brain’s processing speed and hindering its optimal performance.

Navigating the anti-snoring landscape

So, now that we’ve established the idea that snoring might be harmful to your mental well-being, what can be done about it? First up, there’s the lifestyle makeover.

Sometimes, simple changes in how you live your daily life can make a world of difference. It could be shedding a few pounds, kicking a smoking habit, or just tweaking your bedtime routine. Small changes have a big impact.

Then, there’s positional therapy, a fancy term for changing up how you sleep. You might be surprised at how a switch from back to side sleeping can be a game-changer in the snoring department. 

But wait, there’s more! Ever heard of adjustable pillows? They’re not just for show. These are designed to prop your head and neck in a way that keeps the air flowing smoothly, eliminating snoring.

Now, if you’re up for a bit of tech, you can check out a Happy Sleep anti-snoring mouthpiece, a mandibular advancement device. These mouthguard-like contraptions work by tweaking the position of your jaw, helping to keep the airway wide open. It’s like giving your snoring a gentle nudge in the right direction.

Final thoughts

If we want to achieve and maintain optimal mental health, we have to understand the impact snoring has on our lives.

There is an intricate connection between snoring and issues such as sleep disruptions, and mental well-being. This is why it is important to take a holistic approach to overall health.

Proactively addressing snoring by making informed choices and anti-snoring interventions not only leads to quieter nights but also plays an active role in enhancing mental resilience and vitality.




Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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