There are few nocturnal habits as irritating as snoring, as you’ll know, if your partner lets out rumbles as you try to sleep. Apart from anything, it’s impossible not to get irritated by the constant noise, leading to a bad night’s rest at best and a bruise from a swift kick in the shin at worst.

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Image: Cover Media

Well actually, that might not be the most terrible thing. Scientists now suggest snoring might be a sign that something more significant is happening with the body, namely that the person might be predisposed to impaired memory function.

In particular those with sleep apnoea were found to decline mentally around ten years before those who don’t have it. Sleep apnoea is an issue with the walls of the throat during sleep; they relax and narrow, which can interfere with breathing and loud snoring is often one of the warning signs.

A team of American researchers looked at 2,470 people between the ages of 55 and 90. After studying their medical histories, it was discovered that people who experienced problems with their breathing while asleep began experiencing mild cognitive impairment at 77. In contrast, people without any such issues didn’t find anything untoward until they were 90.

Those with sleeping problems also developed Alzheimer’s disease five years earlier than the other group.

There was some good news though; with the use of a special mask – often prescribed to people with sleep apnoea – things can be improved.

“The age of onset of mild cognitive impairment for people whose breathing problems were treated was almost identical to that of people who did not have any breathing problems at all,” Dr Ricardo Osorio, of New York University, said in the findings published in Neurology.

“Given that so many older adults have sleep breathing problems, these results are exciting – we need to examine whether using [the machine] could possibly help prevent or delay memory and thinking problems.”

At the moment the team don’t know why snoring and memory issues are linked, but in the past it’s been suggested that the disruption in sleep might be the issue. — COVER MEDIA