Breathing and snoring sound characteristics during sleep in adults

Asaf Levartovsky, Eliran Dafna, Yaniv Zigel, Ariel Tarasiuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: Sound level meter is the gold standard approach for snoring evaluation. Using this approach, it was established that snoring intensity (in dB) is higher for men and is associated with increased apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). In this study, we performed a systematic analysis of breathing and snoring sound characteristics using an algorithm designed to detect and analyze breathing and snoring sounds. The effect of sex, sleep stages, and AHI on snoring characteristics was explored. Methods: We consecutively recruited 121 subjects referred for diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. A whole night audio signal was recorded using noncontact ambient microphone during polysomnography. A large number (> 290,000) of breathing and snoring (> 50 dB) events were analyzed. Breathing sound events were detected using a signal-processing algorithm that discriminates between breathing and nonbreathing (noise events) sounds. Results: Snoring index (events/h, SI) was 23% higher for men (p = 0.04), and in both sexes SI gradually declined by 50% across sleep time (p < 0.01) independent of AHI. SI was higher in slow wave sleep (p < 0.03) compared to S2 and rapid eye movement sleep; men have higher SI in all sleep stages than women (p < 0.05). Snoring intensity was similar in both genders in all sleep stages and independent of AHI. For both sexes, no correlation was found between AHI and snoring intensity (r = 0.1, p = 0.291). Conclusions: This audio analysis approach enables systematic detection and analysis of breathing and snoring sounds from a full night recording. Snoring intensity is similar in both sexes and was not affected by AHI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Breathing
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Sex
  • Snoring
  • Sound analysis


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