Is There Any Snoring In Space?
Do astronauts snore?
This seems to be a logical question, as space is a zero-gravity environment. As you might suspect, astronauts are forced to spend long periods of time in very cramped quarters together – and to have 7 people all sleeping and snoring in the same space… well, you could imagine how anyone who has ever slept with a snorer would be a bit concerned!
But is snoring even a factor for space-explorers, or is it a non-issue with the lack of earth-like gravity?
Here’s the 411 on snoring in space.
What causes snoring?
First of all, it is important to understand what causes snoring. While there are a number of factors that can contribute to a person’s snoring risk, the main factor is soft palate vibration in the back of the throat.
The loose bits of tissue in the throat can tend to ‘constrict’, or close in… which creates a ‘flapping’ or ‘vibrating’ effect when air is drawn in toward the lungs.
This flapping/vibrating of the soft tissue is what generates the sounds that we all recognize as ‘snoring.’
What about in space?
Space is a zero-gravity environment… and as it turns out, snoring isn’t a problem once you leave earth’s gravity behind.
In an article published on ABC News, we learn a lot about the nitty-gritty, day to day details of space travel… and snoring was covered by astronauts in surprising detail.
Here’s a quote from the article that does a good job of demonstrating how the environment in space helps to mitigate the risks of snoring. It’s a quote by a flight surgeon by the name of Dr. J.D. Polk…
“Earthly snoring occurs when gravity pulls the tongue and soft tissues in the rear of your mouth backward,” he said. “If your airway is partially obstructed you get these tissues flapping. In microgravity, the tongue and the jaw do not fall back in the throat, so there is less airway obstruction in space.”
The article also shared a lot of other interesting details about space travel – but still, this information gives us some food-for-thought about humans, snoring, and the future of space travel.
Will humans ever be a mostly space-faring species?
What if humans (or at least most of them) left earth to travel in space? As we continue to multiply, it seems to make sense that we will eventually form colonies outside of our planetary home-world. If this is the case, then could space travel serve as a mechanism for evolutionarily removing snoring from the human sleeping equation?
There is little doubt that space travel would have several effects on us as a species. There is radiation to consider – as well as the effects that zero-gravity can have on our bodies over the course of time.
And snoring is just one of many things that could be drastically altered by the physical effects of spending generations outside of earth’s gravity.
Interestingly enough, gravity plays a bigger, more important role in our lives than we often give it credit for. It holds us to the ground, preventing us from floating away. Many houses and buildings would also likely ‘float away’ if it weren’t for the forces of gravity that hold them down.
Snoring might seem like a small thing to factor in when you think about the major effects that this ‘Newtonian’ force exhibits on our species and way of life – but that doesn’t make the fact that zero gravity means zero snoring any less significant, especially when you factor in how much more at risk we are for many chronic diseases and conditions when we snore.
Snoring increases our risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and many other types of physical conditions. So, when you take into account that humanity may not always be bound by gravitational constraints, it sets us up for an interesting viewpoint of how spaceflight and interplanetary travel could potentially impact our long-term health and longevity.