Snoring is a common problem that affects many people, and there are a lot of reasons why people snore. For most who do, it’s a combination of factors that contribute to the issue.
One significant factor for a lot of snorers is their smoking habit. More specifically, people of any age who smoke cigarettes, smoke cannabis, or vape, as well as those exposed to passive smoke, are much more likely to also snore, and there is a direct association between the two.
The more a person smokes, the greater their likelihood of snoring and the greater its severity.
Did You Know?
In Australia, in March 2023:
- 11.8% of the population over age 14 smoke cigarettes.
- 8.9% of the population over the age of 14 vape.
- Men are more likely to be current daily smokers than women.
- Smoking prevalence has increased since 2020 for people aged between 14 and 17 years.
- Vaping is highly prevalent in persons under the age of 35 years – with some non-smokers even taking up the habit.
- People who report having “fair” or “poor” overall health are more than twice as likely to smoke daily than people who claim to have “very good” or “excellent” health.
- Smoking contributes to 13% of all deaths in Australia and is responsible for 8.6% of this nation’s total disease burden. It is associated with cancer (including but not limited to lung, throat, oesophagus, breast, and bladder cancers), stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, vein disease, erectile dysfunction, fertility issues, and eye disease.
Does Smoking Affect Snoring or Sleep Apnoea?
Smokers are at least twice as likely to snore as non-smokers.
Snoring and sleep apnoea are both impacted by smoking – and studies show that, for example, smokers snore for a greater percentage of the night on average than non-smokers.
(It’s important to understand that snoring and sleep apnoea are not the same thing – and while snoring can often be managed very conservatively, sleep apnoea requires a proper medical diagnosis and specific ongoing management.)
How Does Smoking Increase Snoring?
- Cigarette smoke (and associated chemicals) irritate the lining membranes of the airways of the mouth, nasal passages, throat, and lungs.
- This causes swelling and catarrh, which is a build-up of mucous the body creates to try to protect these airway tissues.
- Catarrh causes nasal stuffiness, sinus congestion, throat and chest congestion (and other unpleasant effects) and decreases possible airflow whilst breathing.
Narrowed airways from inflammation and catarrh directly influence snoring.
The severity of congestion experienced by smokers increases with every cigarette/cigar/pipe – so the more one partakes, the greater the risk and severity of snoring.
Smoking is the enemy of good health and a good night’s sleep – and it definitely contributes heavily to snoring in smokers. Moreover, passive smoking from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes has the same detrimental effects to a large extent – so it’s not just the smoker who is at risk of snoring associated with their habit (as well as other harmful health effects), but also their partner and other household members. This is especially the case for babies and children of smokers.
For people with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, smokers experience much more severe symptoms and much worse sleep quality, and the overall risks and consequences are elevated as well.
What About Vaping?
A lot of people turn to vaping as a cigarette alternative – especially younger people. Some do it as a way to stop smoking, while others take it up recreationally on its own. Vaping is sold as a safer alternative to smoking, as the user inhales water vapour, nicotine, and flavouring instead of tar-based smoke. It is not, however, safer for users who inhale numerous chemicals and nicotine, and it has inflammatory and stimulant effects which compromise sleep and contribute to snoring.
Why Quitting Smoking Can Help Improve Snoring
Quitting smoking and/or vaping is a very effective way to reduce or even stop snoring – especially when you do so while implementing other helpful lifestyle and sleep hygiene changes.
- Allows the body to recover – inflammation is reduced, catarrh is reduced, and the airways open up to function better.
- Enables you to sleep deeper.
- Reduces some of the risks associated with snoring and OSA such as high blood pressure, obesity, insomnia, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and acid reflux.
- Takes away nighttime cravings that can interrupt sleep.
- Sleeping better facilitates feeling better – which encourages healthier lifestyle choices including exercising more, losing weight, eating better, etc.
- Snoring less (and smoking less or not at all) can help to improve your interpersonal relationships with your partner, children, and others in the home – as well as benefitting their own health and well-being.
- You will smell better – both functionally and aesthetically!
Particularly for long-term, daily smokers, it can take time for the effects of quitting to dramatically impact snoring positively. Your snoring prevalence, however, can be expected to decline to the level it would be had you’d never smoked at all within four years of quitting.
Quitting is difficult. Not everyone is ready to quit smoking – but even reducing the amount one smokes can be of benefit in terms of reducing snoring and improving overall health and well-being.
If you must smoke, aim to have your last cigarette of the day no later than four hours before bedtime. This will enable your body to reduce the effects as much as possible to potentially minimise snoring, and sleep better.
Where to Get Help Quitting Smoking
- Enlist family and friends for ongoing encouragement and support.
- See your GP for behavioural support, referrals, and other medical quitting strategies.
- See your pharmacist for Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
- Contact Quitline in Australia on 137 848
- Visit www.MakeSmokingHistory.org.au for advice and support.
Use SnoreMD to Reduce Snoring!
The SnoreMD stop-snoring device is a fully adjustable, affordable, highly effective mouthguard to stop snoring. It is worn in the mouth during sleep and gently moves the lower jaw slightly forward to help open the airway. This enables clearer breathing and helps to reduce or stop snoring.
Whether you are a smoker or not, SnoreMD is a simple solution designed to treat the symptoms associated with snoring, allowing you to benefit from a better quality of sleep. You will feel better, function better, and be healthier.