It’s been linked to everything from age to weight and smoking and booze. But research now suggests snoring – as well as tiredness – could be down to traffic pollution.
A study has shown those living close to busy roads or whose bedrooms are nearer highways are more likely to snore.
And the noise from vehicles rattling by is also believed to disrupt sleeping patterns, leaving us tired and restless.
The toxic gases and particles released by engines, particularly those powered by diesel, are said to be the cause.
A study of 12 000 people found 25 percent of men snored heavily at least three nights a week, with those exposed to traffic pollution being at the highest risk.
Around a quarter of woman admitted feeling sleepy during the day, which increased if exposed to traffic pollution.
Ane Johannessen, an epidemiologist at Bergen University in Norway, said: “We know that people exposed to secondary cigarette smoking are more likely to snore, so we wondered if the toxins from traffic pollution might also be linked to snoring.”
Men and women affected differently
Scientists at the university also discovered sexes were affected differently. Men who slept in bedrooms near to traffic-heavy roads, leaving them more exposed to airborne pollutants and noise had an increased chance of snoring. But women with similar sleeping arrangements were more susceptible to daytime sleepiness. The findings, based on data collected in cities across northern Europe, will be revealed to doctors and researchers at this week’s annual meeting in London of the European Respiratory Society.
Johannessen saidthe study showed how traffic pollution could disrupt lives and health but more research was needed to understand how it exerted such effects and to what extent.
Traffic pollution levels now needed to be measured in different areas to determine how they related to sleep disturbance for those living close by.
The study said:“It is likely that air pollution can cause snoring through airway inflammation … One could speculate whether women who have husbands who snore experience more daytime sleepiness but the key is understanding the impact of pollution.”
It’s like smoking cigarettes
Professor Stephen Holgate, the ERS’s science council chairman, added that living by a main road had the same impact as smoking ten cigarettes a day on a person’s lungs.
He demanded that Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom introduce a ‘Clean Air Act’ to force the motor industry to minimise vehicle emissions. He said: “Diesel in particular is the No 1 source of toxic air pollutants. Diesel particulates are carcinogenic and highly damaging to human organs.”
Professor Jorgen Vestbo, president of the ERS, said the UK government should issue guidance on how to reduce exposure to air pollution, which should include avoiding walking near main roads. He said: “We cannot stop breathing polluted air but we can limit our exposure.”