Is Snoring An Evolutionary Advantage?
Snoring affects a lot of people (as many as 90 million Americans, according to some statistics). But it’s also pretty much universally accepted as a bad thing. It keeps us awake, it keeps our sleeping partners awake, it sometimes keeps us from sleeping as deeply as we otherwise could, and snoring puts us at an increased risk for a number of different conditions and diseases.
But why do we really snore? Is it possible that this is a trait that we have actually developed over time?
This might seem strange – because snoring doesn’t seem to accomplish anything positive for humans at first glance.
But some people say otherwise. In fact, there are a lot of theories out there right now that claim that snoring may possibly be evolutionary.
Here’s what you need to know.
The theory that we ‘evolved to snore’
Various threads on Reddit and other sites have displayed some pretty popular discussions on the idea that snoring is actually an evolutionary advantage for humans.
This idea is pretty much based on the following rationale.
First of all, humans have not yet evolved to avoid snoring – which could mean that it has, at some point in our history, served some important purpose (if you believe in evolution, anyway) for us.
Secondly, snoring could have served as a mechanism to ward off predators in more primitive times. A group of sleeping humans, all making quite a racket with their wheezing and snoozing, could have (as the theory goes) generated enough noise to ward off predators who were weary of being detected or discovered.
There is even a bit of support out there (among commenters anyway – not necessarily among scientists) that snoring could have, at one point, served as a mechanism for ‘gently shaking’ the heart and the blood vessels within the body as a means to avoid the clogging of arteries.
These theories seem to be at least partially supported by the fact that animals also snore. So, if snoring were some sort of negative byproduct of our modern culture or way of life, then why would animals (who are not subjected to the same societal/environmental changes as modern humans) also snore?
Is it true?
Unfortunately, it would seem that there is, perhaps, more than one reason to believe that snoring might not actually be a product of evolution. One commenter in one of the threads accurately pointed out that snoring would have done little to deter some of our most dangerous predators back in primitive times… and that snoring might have even served to alert some of them to our presence – thereby making us much more vulnerable to attack.
Humans would have stood to gain a lot more in terms of safety from choosing predator-free territory to sleep in, and would have undoubtedly posted ‘sentries’ to keep from being surprised in the middle of the night by wolves, large cats, bears, humans from other tribes, or other carnivores who might have sought them out as easy prey.
And seeing as how humans are the most vulnerable when they sleep, it seems to make sense that staying ‘quiet’ would offer more of an advantage than making a lot of noise.
But, as some have also pointed out, there are a lot of factors to weigh – and it is quite possible that current theories are simply not taking everything into account. It is also possible, however, that snoring has never really played a significant role in keeping us safe or putting us in danger with predators, which is why evolution didn’t see fit to ‘evolve it out of us.’
It is also possible that it hasn’t had a chance. Some believe that snoring may be a relatively new phenomenon for humans (only affecting us over the course of the last several thousand years or so)… and that, as such a ‘new’ development, it has not yet been ‘fixed’ by the evolutionary process.
Of course, a lot of this is just speculation – but, it is still interesting to consider.
What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know!