Watching more than four hours of television a day increases your risk of developing sleep apnoea and snoring by 78%, latest research reveals.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition that effects your breathing, causing it to stop and start while you sleep. Snoring and disturbed sleep are common symptoms caused by OSA.

Sleep apnoea can also increase the risk of severe health conditions, such as cancer, stroke and glaucoma.

For more than a decade, American researchers from Harvard Medical School observed the health status and exercise regimes of 138,000 adults.

From their analysis, they discovered that inactive individuals were more at risk of developing obstructive sleep apnoea.

Lead author Dr Tianyi Huang said: “We saw a clear relationship between levels of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and OSA risk.

“People who followed the current World Health Organization physical activity guidelines of getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week and spent less than four hours per day sitting watching TV, had substantially lower OSA risk.”

He added: “Importantly, we saw that any additional increase in physical activity, and/or a reduction in sedentary hours, could have benefits that reduce the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnoea.

“The difference in OSA risk between sedentary work and time spent sitting watching TV could be explained by other behaviours that are related to those activities, for example, snacking and drinking sugary drinks.”

At the end of the study, more than eight thousand people in the group had developed obstructive sleep apnoea.

Those who regularly took part in physical activities were less at risk of being diagnosed with the disorder.

Anita Simonds, President of the European Respiratory Society, said: “Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common and pervasive disorder that can have a serious impact on the quality of people’s lives. Although OSA can be managed with modern treatments, only a minority of studies focus on prevention.

“Health professionals should prioritise prevention and support people who are at-risk of developing OSA to be more active before it is too late.”

The entire findings of this research study are now available in the European Respiratory Journal.

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