01/17/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The (Un)Lucky Snorers Burn More Calories

If you knew that snoring allows you to burn hundreds of more calories a night than a non-snorer, would you like to find a way to pick up the habit?

I thought so. Well, my guess is some of you who feel desperate to lose weight (especially this time of year) would do just about anything.

The news just came out about a new study where researchers found that those who had the most fitful sleep characterized by snoring burned around 2,000 a day while resting as opposed to the 1,600 burned by sound sleepers. How is this possible? One of the reasons given is that the snoring and/or snoring-related problems may cause changes in the nervous system, thus requiring the body to use up more energy. I'll add that these numbers should be taken lightly. Everyone's metabolism and energy needs are different; the more important conclusion here is the fact snoring seems to up caloric expenditure.

Not that all this is a good thing. (And who really wants to snore or sleep with a snorer?)

Snoring can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as sleep apnea. This disorder can cause a person to temporarily stop breathing while at rest, and has been linked to cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure. I've long been an advocate for sleep as a method of weight loss and weight maintenance (of course in combination with other healthy lifestyle factors), but not because you're likely to burn more calories in episodic snoring sessions throughout the night. Sound sleep allows the body to regulate its appetite, hunger, and general metabolic hormones better. The only silver lining I can find in this study is the fact many snorers are, in fact, overweight or obese, so burning a few extra calories might help them take the weight off...and kick the habit for good.

But no one is going to get fit and trim from snoring alone, so don't let the headlines fool you.

That said, there was another headline this week that caught my attention and that I think is more appropriate. Kevin Braun wrote an article for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the perfect gift: sleep. Mr. Braun had a sleep study performed on him a year and a half ago at the urging of his (sleep-deprived) wife. He learned he had sleep apnea, and treated his problem with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, which pushes air through his airway passage at a pressure set to prevent apnea. He calls it the gift that keeps on giving...good night sleeps.

Bottom line: if you're a snorer or know someone who is, don't rejoice. Ask for or give the perfect gift by seeking help in understanding the root cause of your snoring. Then you'll really have reason to rejoice. 

This sleep article is also available at Dr. Breus's official blog, The Insomnia Blog.