Loud snoring could be an early sign of future health risks.

Snoring has for long been linked to cardiovascular disease, and now scientists believe it could be a sign for dementia and memory problems.

Heavy snoring is found in people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) — a sleep disorder that occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep — and a new study found that people with OSA did worse in memory tests.

Loud snoring could shrink parts of the brain by reducing oxygen levels in the blood, say scientists from Sydney University, adding that people with sleep apnea had reduced thickness in their left and right temporal lobes. These are memory centres of the brain and is linked to dementia.

Professor Sharon Naismith, who led the study from the Brain and Mind Centre at Sydney University, said: “Our results suggest that we should be screening for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in older people. We should also be asking older patients attending sleep clinics about their memory and thinking skills and carrying out tests where necessary.

“There is no cure for dementia so early intervention is key. On the other hand, we do have an effective treatment for OSA. This research shows that diagnosing and treating OSA could be an opportunity to prevent cognitive decline before it’s too late.”

Here are two other health risks associated with snoring.

Stroke:

According to one study, snoring could cause stroke. The louder and longer a person snores each night, the greater long-term risk for a stroke. It is advisable to seek immediate medical attention if your partner says your breathing stops in your sleep.

Headache:

A study of 268 people found a connection between frequent morning headaches and sleep disorders including insomnia and sleep apnea.