Simple snoring: not quite so simple after all?

Sleep Med Rev. 2014 Dec;18(6):453-62. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2014.04.006. Epub 2014 May 9.


Simple snoring (SS), in the absence of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), is a common problem, yet our understanding of its causes and consequences is incomplete. Our understanding is blurred by the lack of consistency in the definition of snoring, methods of assessment, and degree of concomitant complaints. Further, it remains contentious whether SS is independently associated with daytime sleepiness, or adverse health outcomes including cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Regardless of this lack of clarity, it is likely that SS exists on one end of a continuum, with OSA at its polar end. This possibility highlights the necessity of considering an otherwise 'annoying' complaint, as a serious risk factor for the development and progression of sleep apnoea, and consequent poor health outcomes. In this review, we: 1) highlight variation in prevalence estimates of snoring; 2) review the literature surrounding the distinctions between SS, upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) and OSA; 3) present the risk factors for SS, in as far as it is distinguishable from UARS and OSA; and 4) describe common correlates of snoring, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and daytime sleepiness.

Keywords: Breathing; Habitual snoring; OSA; Obstructive sleep apnoea; Primary snoring; Simple snoring; Sleep; UARS; Upper airway resistance syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Snoring / complications
  • Snoring / epidemiology
  • Snoring / etiology*
  • Snoring / physiopathology