Snoring in the Sty

Man sleeping and snoring with woman nexo to him with her hands on her ears

This little piggy…went to sleep?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Does your snoring bring the house down – literally?? It could mean you have sleep apnea! That’s when breathing repeatedly starts and stops during rest. But are humans the only ones with this sleep issue?

Enter Zi-Jun Liu and team from the University of Washington. They studied sleep apnea in Yucatan minipigs, whose airways are similar to ours. PLUS they can have obesity — a known risk for sleep apnea in humans.

The researchers monitored two plump and three normal-sized pigs sleeping naturally. Then, they sedated the piggies to monitor their breathing rates.

Results? The obese piggies had several sleep apnea episodes. They inhaled and exhaled less air with each breath and had narrower airways. They also let out rumbling snores under both normal AND sedated conditions. The non-obese pigs were quiet — like pigs in a blanket!

Knowing more about minipig sleep apnea may help us understand WHY it occurs in humans.

As for those midnight snack raids…more research is needed!

Reference: Liu, Z.-J., Do, T., & Fong, H. (2021). Airflow dynamics in obese minipigs with obstructive sleep apnea. Heliyon, 7(1), e05700.