Don't Ignore the Snores

May 13, 2011

Lousy sleep not only makes you cranky; it may also warn that you're on the road to metabolic syndrome-a cluster of symptoms (including high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and excess belly fat) linked to heart disease. In a recent University of Pittsburgh study, people who complained of trouble falling asleep had an 80 percent greater chance of developing the syndrome three years later. "Disturbed sleep can contribute to inflamation, raise stress hormones, and alter appetite-regulating hormones," says lead author Wendy Troxel, Ph.D. Loud snores had a still-higher risk: Even if they didn't have sleep apnea (ID'd as a possible link), their odds were doubled. Vibrations caused by snoring may change blood vessel walls, leading to plaque buildup. So while your P.M. troubles may not seem serious to you, tell your doctor, who might recommend sleep-hygiene practices, weight loss, medication, or a visit to a specialist. She will also need to more closely monitor your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

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