So it was with great fascination that I learned of a colleague whose husband was dieting in order to decrease his home-wrecking, sleep-destroying snore. Sleep and health are intricately connected. But does being fat increase your chance of also being a snorer?
Fat people get a hard time in general. Being fat (despite being a social norm in some demographics) is not a socially celebrated label. We connect excess weight to excess in general - too much food, too much drink, too much lying around, too much snoring? We all know that being overweight increases your chance of having a stroke and heart attack and understand the mechanism- the extra fat deposits clog up the arteries and cause hard plaques that lead to inflexible arterial walls making it hard for good blood flow - but how does stomach fat clog up your airways or block your throat?
It turns out that the answer is not straight forward.
1. The size of your waist is a better indicator than your weight.
Waist Hip Ratio (WHR) is your waist circumference divided by hip circumference
Example: 75cm divided by 90 cm = 0.8
A healthy WHR is 0.8. People with a high WHR had a higher chance of snoring.
2. Being fat may not be the reason you snore.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is your weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in metres) squared.
Example: 70kg divided by 1.6mX1.6m = 27
Overweight is defined as a BMI>25 and obese as a BMI>30. People with a high BMI did not have a higher chance of snoring.
BUT there was a strong link between sleep apnoea and obesity. Sleep apnoea is disrupted sleep due to not getting enough air but not all people with sleep apnoea snore.
3. The loudness of the snore is not always equivalent to how fat the snorer is.
This is probably due to the fact that snoring is a complex issue. It can be due to a blocked nose (due to a common cold or chronic allergies) or a swollen throat (due to smoking) or simply a tongue that gets in the way.
So it seems that whilst being fat may not cause you to snore, it will cause you to sleep poorly AND given that snoring is a health wrecker (for the snorer and their family) quick treatment is encouraged. The usual advice is to lose weight, quit smoking, get any allergies under control and change your sleeping position (sleeping on your side is better than on your back). You deserve better sleep.