Here's a study that confirms that snoring should always be taken seriously: Researchers showed that snoring children had lower IQ/test scores compares with children that didn't snore. Not too surprising, knowing what we know about snoring.
Even if you don't have obstructive sleep apnea, snoring is a sign that you're partially obstructed, and in most cases many people who snore initially go on to develop obstructive sleep apnea many years later. In young children with very actively developing brains, any disruption in sleep quality can disrupt proper brain functioning.
I overheard one sleep researcher a few years ago saying that after tonsillectomy, cognitive and behavioral scores improve dramatically, but never catch up to that of children who didn't need tonsillectomy.
So why should snoring be taken so seriously?
We know that in drivers, snoring alone without having formal obstructive sleep apnea significantly increases your risk of car accidents. Vibrations that come from snoring is thought to alter the sensory nerve endings of the soft palate, somehow damaging the protective reflexes that help to keep the upper airway open. Vibrations from snoring are also found to cause carotid artery wall thickening in rabbits. Damage to the chemical receptors from additional reflux can also aggravate this vicious cycle. These type of studies go on and on.
What all these studies point to is the fact that snoring is on a continuum of sleep-breathing disturbances of which all humans are susceptible. While not all snorers will have obstructive sleep apnea, it's important to look for complications of snoring, as well as to prevent progression later on into true sleep apnea.
How many of your friends or family members snore?