The Relationship Between Snoring and Blood Oxygen Desaturation

Snore at night? Learn how this can cause blood oxygen desaturation and what it means for your overall health—now and in the future.


If you happen to snore here and there, you’re not alone. However, for those who snore more often than not, there is a connection between snoring and blood oxygen desaturation that is important to explore. Blood oxygen desaturation means that your blood lowers in terms of its oxygen levels, which can have a drastic impact on your health over time. Whether you snore or know someone who does, this article will enlighten you on how snoring impacts your blood oxygen levels and why. 
Some of the specific points that we will cover include how snoring leads to this, including how it causes airway obstruction, breathing interruptions, and, therefore, reduced oxygen intake. We’ll also discuss what sort of impacts you can expect as well as the long-term health consequences of continued snoring that leads to less oxygen in the blood. Before we get to the health challenges, let’s first explore how snoring causes this. 

Snoring Causes Airway Obstruction 

As you might have guessed, snoring can actually cause an obstruction to your airway. That means that you’re not getting enough air into your body while you sleep, leading to continued snoring and other issues. However, studies have found that this airway obstruction is the beginning of blood oxygen desaturation if it continues over a more extended period of time. 
One study on those with sleep-disordered breathing demonstrated that snoring can obstruct airways, leading to less oxygen saturation while sleeping. This is especially an issue for those who have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, both of which can lead to continued snoring. With airway obstruction, you’re definitely going to get less oxygen in your lungs over time, but you’ll also have several breathing interruptions, which also play an important role in why your blood oxygen levels dip.  

When You Snore, Your Breathing Is Interrupted 

One of the significant downsides of snoring—and why it is connected to blood oxygen desaturation—is the interruptions in your sleep that you’ll experience. Unfortunately, you might not even notice these interruptions, but they will still happen. Patients who had obstructive sleep apnea demonstrated that, over time, their sleep interruptions led to disrupted sleeping patterns and, therefore, more disrupted breathing that led to less air intake (Source: PubMed).  
In some cases, you can even experience shallow breathing, which will prevent you from breathing as much air and oxygen as you need to. An experience like this once in a while will not hurt you, but over a longer duration, you might find yourself with further health challenges and poor oxygen saturation in the blood.

Airway Obstruction and Interrupted Breathing Limit Oxygen Intake

As we have discussed, both of these issues related to snoring lead to one conclusion: less oxygen intake within the body while you sleep. Many in the field have proven this time and time again, and while you might think this is not a huge issue, it can be devastating for your health. If you have higher frequencies of snoring episodes and also a greater intensity of such, you may have lower oxygen saturations over time because of what snoring does to your breathing (Source: Annals of Otology, Rhinology, & Laryngology).  
The limitation of oxygen intake and less blood concentration can lead to challenges, some that you might not have known before. With less oxygen in the blood, this ultimately leads to less taken to other necessary parts of your body. When this occurs, it may eventually lead to health problems that are important to touch upon.

How Snoring and Blood Oxygen Desaturation Affect Your Health

Several connections are made between blood oxygen desaturation and long-term health challenges for those who are concerned about their snoring. Normally, blood oxygen levels should be around 95% to 100%, but many people might experience lower rates if they snore regularly. For those who have lower oxygen levels, here are just a few of the health challenges you might encounter: 

  • Lack of Oxygen to Organs: The oxygen in your blood is meant to be delivered to other vital parts of your body, including your organs. When it gets too low, your organs struggle and may not receive the right amount of oxygen.

  • Bodily Damage Due to Hypoxemia: Hypoxemia, also known as low blood oxygen levels, can actually lead to brain and heart damage. This damage is irreparable, which is why it is so essential to protect your health and limit your potential for long-term snoring and low blood oxygen levels.

  • Headaches and Confusion: Long-term snoring can lead to symptoms of hypoxemia, which manifest as confusion and headaches. These can be debilitating and may not go away with a headache, so you’ll need to increase your oxygen levels and focus on improving your snoring.

  • Cardiovascular Concerns: As you might expect, due to the low oxygen in the blood and the potential for damage to your vital organs, you may also find yourself at more risk for cardiovascular concerns, like heart disease and hypertension. This might not impact you immediately, but it can be a problem later on if not managed.

  • Poor Sleep Quality: Because of snoring and limited oxygen intake, you might find yourself with poor sleep quality, as well as the other challenges that come with this issue. These can include daytime fatigue, sleep inertia, and even reduced physical and mental performance, leading to a lesser quality of life compared to others.

How Will You Protect Your Health?

If you struggle with sleep and snore, your blood oxygen levels will likely be affected, as will much of your health. In the short term, snoring will not hurt you, but in the long term, you might be looking at more issues like cardiovascular disease, organ damage, and more. It’s an unfortunate situation, but you can take steps to enhance your sleep and manage your health. How will you protect your health and stop snoring? For more information on sleep health and getting restful sleep, check out our articles on our website.  



Written by

Marie Soukup

Marie Soukup is a seasoned copywriter, editor, and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with a certificate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). With years of experience working with brands across diverse industries, Marie is passionate about holistic health and crafting compelling content.

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