You might not think loud snoring is much of a big deal. But according to sleep experts, the idea that snoring is harmless is a popular — and dangerous — myth.
This belief is one of many sleep myths that could actually pose a threat to public health, according to a recent study published in the journal Sleep Health.
Sleep, or rather lack of it, has serious health implications, especially when lack of sleep builds up over time. The side effects of sleep-deprivation range in severity from headaches to an increased risk of certain diseases.
“There is a growing interest in the topic of sleep in our society,” Rebecca Robbins, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health’s School of Medicine and the study’s lead researcher, told The Active Times. “But nevertheless, myths persist.”
After analyzing more than 8,000 websites, researchers found 20 common myths about sleep. They also found that believing them could actually harm people’s health.
The panel of experts determined how severe the health consequences may be for each myth; thinking of snoring as an annoying yet harmless trait was deemed one of the most dangerous. This is largely due to the threat of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
A person with OSA will have loud snoring and repetitive pauses in breathing throughout the course of the night due to blockages in the airway.
“OSA affects about 30 per cent of our population, but we have evidence that far, far fewer than 30 per cent are diagnosed and seeking treatment,” Robbins said. “And this is a life-threatening sleep disorder.”
Though this disorder is life-threatening if not treated, there are effective and evidence-based treatments available. A person just has to know that snoring is a symptom worth mentioning to their doctor — which they may not, if they believe this myth.
“We really hope that our readers will go through these myths and reflect on their habits,” Robbins said. “Someone who experiences loud snoring coupled with repetitive pauses in breathing, for instance, will hopefully be more inclined to speak to their healthcare provider.”
The study addressed many other dangerous myths about sleep, including the idea that your body can adapt to shorter intervals of sleep. You really do need to sleep seven to eight hours a night — here’s what could happen if you don’t.