Is Snoring Genetic?
Is snoring genetic? Questions in life rarely have a definitive answer, and this is no exception. Here, the answer is an unsatisfying “yes and no”. There is a genetic connection, but not a direct cause.
Your DNA can increase the risk of snoring but won’t condemn you to a certain life of nocturnal noises.
My family snores. Am I doomed?
Multiple studies have found that coming from a family of snorers confers a 3-fold increased risk of snoring yourself . This is due to a number of different inherited features but there is no such thing as a “snoring gene”.
There is also some research to suggest that an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea can be inherited .
But fear not – if your whole family snores, whilst you may have to work a little harder to make sure that you don’t, you are far from doomed!
What heritable traits can make you snore?
A predisposition for snoring can come from certain structural features in your face and airways.
Physical characteristics like your eye colour, height and skin tone are inherited from your parents. The same is true of the features that can make you snore.
The usual anatomical culprits for snoring are:
- Small nostrils
- Receded chin (known as retrognathia)
- Small jaw (known as micrognathia)
- Narrow airway
- Large tongue
- Large soft palate
All of these factors decrease the size of your airway and disrupt airflow therefore making snoring more likely.
If your snoring can be attributed to a distinct anatomical feature, it can usually be helped with standard anti-snoring remedies. Sometimes, if the abnormality is particularly pronounced, corrective surgery could be a solution.
Obesity is a key risk factor in snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Basically, the heavier you are, the more likely you are to snore.
Less clear is how much your genes are to blame. In some cases, yes, being overweight does seem to run in families, but it is the subject of much debate as to whether this is the result of nature or nurture.
The likely answer is, again, probably somewhere in the middle …
Physiological factors that dictate weight can indeed be inherited genetically. Appetite is regulated by a system of hormones and signals in the body which are ultimately controlled by a series of underlying genes.
On the other hand, attitudes to food, diet and weight are learned from the behaviours and views of the people around us. This can include our family or simply the society and culture we live in.
There are lots of factors that influence snoring, and it would appear that your DNA is one of them. It’s important to remember that this is only an influence and not a sentence to an eternity of snoring.
So if your mum and dad compete for the best (or worst) Snore Score, you need not worry. You can’t control your genes, but you can control a lot of other factors that contribute to your snoring. Try to understand your triggers and the solutions that work for you.
If you don’t know where to start, have a look at our 7 recommended lifestyle factors that can make huge differences to your snoring.