No one can deny that sleep and stress are related– a stressful day can result in difficulty falling asleep, and a poor night’s sleep can cause stress. When snoring enters the picture, the problem is two-fold; it keeps a partner awake and results in two disgruntled people.
What many people don’t realize is that snoring can be a byproduct of stress.
A Self-Perpetuating Cycle
It’s difficult to prove that stress causes snoring. Stress is self-perpetuating, a vicious cycle. When you are stressed during the day, your brain releases hormones like cortisol, GH, and norepinephrine, which increase tension, throw off sleep cycles and make sleeping more difficult. This constant barrage of stress, in addition to its psychological effects on sleep, may cause weight gain. The build-up of fat in the neck can cause tissues to block the airways and result in vibration, or snoring when breathing.
Snoring itself reduces the quality of sleep. If someone has bad snoring, it is difficult for them to get a good night’s sleep and spend the next day feeling rested. In this way, snoring exacerbates stress and makes it difficult to relax in your daily life.
The Health Risks of Snoring
Aside from the obvious side effects of increased fatigue, stress, and annoyed sleeping partners, snoring has other serious health risks that make it important for you to address the problem. These serious side effects are usually associated with sleep apnea, another cause of snoring. They can include:
Long Periods of Interrupted Breathing
Due to blockages of the airway, people who snore or who have sleep apnea may frequently stop breathing for more than 10 seconds at a time while they are sleeping. This action results in the brain receiving less oxygen.
Waking Up Many Times During the Night
You may not realize you are waking up many times during the night because of snoring, but if it happens, it makes it impossible to enjoy a full sleep cycle. You can recognize when a person’s sleep cycle is interrupted by their snoring pattern. A slow increase in volume followed by a snort and a period of silence indicates the snorer’s breathing is interrupted. During these silent moments, the sleeper wakes up momentarily, destroying the sleep cycle and the quality of sleep.
Low Levels of Oxygen in the Blood
Because of these long periods of interrupted breathing, there is not enough oxygen going to the blood. Constricted blood vessels in the lungs may lead to pulmonary hypertension, a life-threatening condition that requires careful treatment.
Chronic snorers may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder which in turn causes strain on the heart. Prolonged sleep apnea may raise the sufferer’s blood pressure and increase the risks of heart attack and stroke.
How to Lower Stress Levels
If you want to stop snoring, a great way to supplement your efforts is to look for ways to reduce your stress in your daily life and before going to sleep.
Diet and Exercise
When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins and puts you in a better mood, lessening the effects of stress-inducing hormones. Healthy food groups like whole grains and protein give you long-lasting energy, and avoiding junk food and excessive coffee can reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, respectively. A healthier lifestyle can help you lose weight, freeing up those constricted airways in the throat.
Devoting just 15 – 30 minutes every day to a mindful meditation can work wonders. Find a quiet place or listen to music, sit in a comfortable position with your back tall, and focus on your breathing, letting thoughts drift in and out of your mind like clouds. Don’t focus on anything too closely; just be in the present. There are many YouTube videos and apps where you can find guided meditations to help you relax.
Meditating before bed can help you relax and avoid snoring. Furthermore, changing the way you sleep can be of great benefit. Sleeping on your side, rather than on your back, prevents your tongue from falling back and obstructing the airway. Also, drinking a lot of water during the day will clear the air passages and remove excess particles that may obstruct them while you are trying to sleep.
Problems with snoring can be very frustrating for everyone involved. With all the sources of conflict today, it may pose a challenge to lower stress levels, but it will improve your sleep and your overall lifestyle. If you are having problems combatting snoring, it may be helpful to speak with a physician.
Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!