Snoring is more common than you think. On average, one in four people snores as loudly as 90 decibels. According to Dr. Michael Mosley, creator of the Fast 800 diet and a world-renowned nutrition expert, excess weight is the main reason most people snore.
Can weight loss reduce my snoring? Excess weight gain usually causes the accumulation of fat deposits around the neck and chin. The bigger your neck gets, the more likely you are to snore at night. Losing weight can help you reduce or stop your snoring. I know when I lost weight, it helped to reduce my snoring.
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Why Do We Snore?
Snoring can be caused by your sleeping position, the shape of your mouth, and alcohol consumption. However, weight gain is strongly tied to snoring, likely because as the neck increases in size, breathing becomes more challenging. As we grow older, we inevitably gain more weight, which makes us more likely to snore.
Other changes take place that makes snoring unavoidable as we age—like our throats get narrower and our neck muscles get weaker. If you add excess weight around the neck, it becomes harder for air to move freely through the nose and throat, especially since the uvula (the dangling tissue at the back of your throat) hangs looser with age. I had to get my uvula removed to stop my snoring.
The Vicious Snoring-Weight Gain Cycle
Poor sleep quality has been known to induce hormonal shifts that increase cravings for sweet foods and give you a bigger appetite. Ironically, not getting enough sleep due to snoring, which happens more frequently as you gain weight, can promote further weight gain.
Fragmented sleep disrupts appetite hormones and causes your blood sugar levels to fluctuate. There’s enough evidence to suggest that sleeping for less than seven hours makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as well as obesity and weight problems.
Sleep deprivation can make you feel hungry more often. It may also impact your cravings for unhealthy foods like pastries, candy, and deep-fried foods. Dr. Mosley suggests that merely being tired is enough to send you to the fridge. He explains that a tired brain becomes more active when rewarded, so you become more motivated to go hunting for unhealthy snacks even when you shouldn’t be eating.
This discovery was backed by a study at King’s College in London, where it was found that sleep-deprived people consume an extra 385 calories daily.
How Much Weight Do I Need To Lose?
For men, your neck shouldn’t be more than 17 inches in circumference, and for women, your neck shouldn’t be more than 16 inches.
The risk of snoring increases as you approach a BMI of 30 or weigh more than 50% above your ideal body weight. Losing as little as 10% body weight can dramatically reduce the quality of your sleep and how often (and how loudly) you snore at night.
Losing Weight Can Reduce Snoring, But How?
So far, we’ve established that excess weight is the main reason why people snore. Unfortunately, even though we know what the problem is, the solution isn’t always as straightforward.
There are more diet plans and crazy fads than you can count. Not all of them will work for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not effective. Some weight loss methods will almost always bring positive results if applied correctly. They are:
The Ketogenic Diet
You’ve probably heard about the keto diet, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘low-carb’ or ‘no-carb’ diet. This is a diet that’s rich in protein and healthy fats but devoid of any carbohydrates.
The keto diet works because it forces your body into a state known as ketosis. When you achieve ketosis, that means that your body is converting its stored fats into ketones, which are used as substitute energy producers in the absence of carbohydrates. For that reason, ketosis can be a highly effective weight-loss method because it limits the number of carbs in your diet and ramps up the consumption of fat reserves for energy.
If you need help in getting started with the keto diet, check out my reviews on the 28-day keto challenge and the three-week keto diet.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is rich in proteins and vegetables but has minimal carbohydrates. It is based on the traditional diet of the Greeks and Italians from the 60s. The Mediterranean diet is widely accepted as a reasonably effective way to lose weight. Numerous studies show that it helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of cardiac arrest, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and premature death.
It is a diet that’s easy to follow because there are many options available. All the dieter has to do is to eat more veggies, fruits, fish, seafood, and whole grains and eliminate processed foods, artificial sugars, and refined grains from their diet. They should eat poultry, cheese, and eggs in moderation and only rarely eat red meat.
That is the only guideline, so the Mediterranean diet is flexible enough to suit most people’s weight loss needs.
The intermittent fasting method has been one of the most popular ones for some years now. It is a diet cycle that alternates between fasting and eating periods. Unlike most diets, this method doesn’t tell you what to eat but rather when you should eat.
This method is thought to be very effective because it was practiced (unintentionally) by ancient human civilizations. Hunter-gatherers didn’t have a steady food source as we do, so they would sometimes go without eating for hours or a few days.
There’s plenty of ways to practice intermittent fasting. There’s the 16/8 method, which is 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour eating period followed by another 16-hour fasting period, and so on.
There’s the 24-hour fasting method where you skip meals for an entire day (from dinner to dinner), and then there’s Dr. Mosley’s 5:2 diet, which involves consuming fewer calories (500-600) on two non-consecutive days of the week and eating normally on the rest of them.
What Else Can I Do About My Snoring?
Obviously, you won’t lose weight overnight, so the snoring will not go away immediately. If it’s really affecting your ability to sleep (and making your partner cranky), there are more immediate ways to stop snoring.
Snoring can also be an anatomical problem when a deviated septum causes it. Consider using a CPAP machine if you’re at high risk of sleep apnea, a chronic breathing condition whereby you stop breathing in your sleep due to a complete or partial collapse of the upper airway. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, which keeps the soft palate from collapsing while you sleep.