How snoring can affect your fitness

For most people who snore, the biggest concern that accompanies it is how it will affect their partner’s sleep. If you’re well-read on health issues, or even just a very cautious person, you may have also considered that your snoring could be a signal of an underlying issue, such as sleep apnoea. What you may not have considered is the link between snoring and your physical fitness, but research suggests that the two are more closely related than you might imagine.

Sleep apnoea is a condition that causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly as they sleep. It can be either obstructive, where the airway becomes blocked as a result of relaxing muscles, or central, which is when breathing stops because the brain fails to send out the signals to breathe. In some cases, it can be a combination of the two.

Sleep apnoea can have a drastic effect on the quality of sleep a person gets. Some people, though not all, may have trouble staying asleep the whole night. Others will wake up, but do not feel well-rested. This can lead to difficulty paying attention, daytime sleepiness, irritability, and headaches. Any one of these symptoms can have an effect on your ability to work out; it’s hard to exercise if you are in a bad mood, feel tired, or have a headache (although exercise will actually help alleviate those symptoms as well).

But the biggest impact sleep apnoea has on your fitness levels is much more subtle than these symptoms, though. A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine may directly make your workout less efficient. Researchers from the University of California compared 15 people with sleep apnoea to 19 people without the condition, examining what is known as their VO2 max. This is the amount of oxygen you can inhale and use to create energy while exercising. What they discovered was that the sleep apnea group had a VO2 max that was, on average, 14% lower than the control group. Furthermore, they found a direct correlation between the severity of a person’s sleep apnoea, and the impact it has on their VO2 max.

While snoring and VO2 maxes are probably not the first things that spring to mind when you think about your fitness levels, it appears that they both have a significant impact. As mentioned earlier, the quality of your sleep can have a big impact on how you feel the next day, so it’s always a good idea to try and address that issue regardless. But if you are particularly interested in fitness and have been searching for a way to increase your efficiency by about 14%, then snoring treatments may yield more benefits for you than you ever would have imagined.

Julie Farrar