Heavy snorers burn more calories than light snorers, even while they are awake and resting, according to research.
Scientists found that those with the most serious snoring problems used around 2,000 calories a day while at rest, compared to an average of 1,626 calories for those who snored lightly.
But the study showed that snoring could cause other problems which could make sufferers gain weight, despite the fact they are expending more calories.
The experts say the snoring could be linked to energy matabolism which could explain the weight gain.
Researchers looked at 212 patients, all of whom snored or had related sleeping conditions like sleep apnoea, and findings revealed that the more severe a patient’s snoring, the more calories they burned while resting.
They concluded that energy expenditure while asleep and resting may be affected by increased reactions in the nervous system caused by snoring and snoring-related conditions.
The authors of the study said: “Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of sleep-disordered breathing and changes in body weight are associated with changes in sleep-disordered breathing severity. It is unclear whether weight gain is simply a cause of sleep-disordered breathing or whether sleep-disordered breathing may be associated with alterations in energy metabolism that, in turn, lead to weight gain and complicate the treatment of these two disorders that often coexist.”
The study, which was published in the journal Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, counted the calories used by sufferers while they were at rest.
Eric J Kezirian of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the research, said: “Sleep-disordered breathing often results in fatigue and other (changes) in daytime functioning that can limit physical activity. This work does not specifically incorporate the emerging evidence that suggests that sleep-disordered breathing may alter energy intake, whether through hormonal or other mechanisms. Future research considering the effect of sleep-disordered breathing on body weight can include the effects on energy intake and expenditure.”
More than 3.5 million people in the UK are thought to snore. It affects four out of ten men and up to three out of ten women, according to research.
Smokers are almost twice as likely as non-smokers to snore because their airways get inflamed and blocked, figures show. Other factors which can make snoring worse include taking sleeping tablets, being overweight and sleeping on your back. Colds and allergies can lead to blockages in the throat, causing sufferers to breathe through their mouths.