If you’re a woman whose husband has always been the one to blame for the snoring, watch out! You may be next in line. Although snoring is often consider to be a man’s problem, women who are aging into the effects of the transition into menopause may be coming into their own snoring. Even if you have never before been a person who snores.
Because this time of massive physical, hormonal, and psychological changes is a complicated and difficult season of life, it stands to reason that menopause comes along with sleep interruptions as well. During the transition into menopause, a woman’s body is preparing for a season where it will no longer be fertile and produce children. Reduced levels of progesterone and estrogen cause all kinds of mood changes, temperature changes, stopping of periods, and often serious interruptions in sleep.
Some women struggle to sleep during their perimenopause phase (the years prior to menopause) due to hot flashes as well as general insomnia. But even into menopause, more than 60% of women report that they have trouble with sleeping including insomnia, snoring, and even sleep related breathing disorders.
Snoring and Menopause
Typically in their mid-forties and early fifties, women go through this life change that can wreak havoc on their bodies and their minds. Not many studies have been performed that look into the connection between menopause and snoring, but many women can attest to the accuracy of this. One study from Toronto has shown that only around 20% of younger women snore, but almost 50% of post-menopausal woman suffer from snoring and other sleep related breathing problems. This significant increase is not likely a coincidence.
While the increase in snoring may not be a direct symptom of menopause, there is certainly a connection. Weight gain, loosening muscle tone, increased sensitivity to bedtime allergies, and other body changes may increase the possibility that a woman in menopause will snore.
Quality sleep is critical for getting through life in a happy, healthy manner. That’s why snoring and related problems such as sleep apnea in menopausal women can feel like the very bane of your existence. Exhaustion, hormonal fluctuations, weight gain, hot flashes and stress can all result in a reduced ability to sleep in women who are experiencing menopause. Getting a good night of sleep on a regular basis is beneficial no matter your stage of life, but particularly during seasons of menopausal transition.
Menopause and Snoring Treatments
Most women struggle through various sorts of discomfort related to the onset and continuation of living with menopause. Although there is certainly no cure for menopause, treatment options do exist for making symptoms less pronounced. Some doctors suggest hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women. This type of treatment may even prevent or alleviate problems with snoring and sleep apnea in pre-menopausal women.
Some treatments for snoring and menopause are the same as they would be for women who are not in menopause. These include:
- Losing Weight. Extra weight is easy to put on as you age, but it can be a severe detriment to breathing during sleep. Fat deposits in the neck especially may limit the opening of the airway passages and reduce the ability for the air to get through during sleep, resulting in snoring. Untreated snoring can result in weight gain, causing a vicious cycle for those who are not attentive to the problems.
- Quitting Smoking. Cause inflammation, irritation, and dryness in the throat and airways, smoking is also bad for you in other ways and should be eliminated as quickly as possible.
- Workout Regularly. Lax muscle tone can be related to snoring, so getting in even just a small amount of exercise on a regular basis can help with toning up the muscles in the neck and reducing the amount of snoring sounds that you produce.
- Medications. If you are struggling with insomnia and your doctor provides you with a sleep medication for it, be very careful. This can actually be counterproductive, causing you to snore even more and limiting the amount of deep, restorative (REM) sleep that you get.
- Changing Sleep Position. People who sleep flat on their backs are more likely to snore than those who sleep in other positions. Consider the use of a special anti-snore pillow, raising the top of your bed with a wedge, or training yourself to sleep on your side. This allows for better breathing during sleep by keeping the throat tissues and tongue from blocking your breathing passages.
- Mouth and Tongue Exercises. Certain exercises for your tongue, mouth, and throat may help to prevent snoring by increasing the muscle tone and protecting the airways from being blocked.
- Limit Alcoholic Beverages. Drinking alcohol late in the day can cause relaxation of your tongue and throat muscles, increasing the risk that you’ll snore. Avoid drinking alcohol in the late afternoon and evening to reduce your problems with snoring.
- Reduce Dairy Intake. Eating dairy can cause production of phlegm that can get in the way of breathing well during sleep. Reducing or cutting out your intake of dairy foods could change everything for your snoring and other parts of your health.
- Open Nasal Passages. If congestion is causing you to snore, you may benefit from using adhesive nasal strips or nose cones that keep the nostrils open and allow you to breathe better during sleep.
The symptoms and timing of menopause often vary between women. Fluctuations in hormones, night sweats, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, lack of focus, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, loss of libido, headache, and even physical pain may accompany the transition into menopause and beyond. Being able to sleep soundly and without snoring may help reduce the severity of your menopausal symptoms and the suffering of relationships and quality of life that can result from lack of sleep.
If you can’t manage your menopausal symptoms and snoring on your own, it is certainly worth a visit to your doctor to determine the best course of action for you to live the best life while combatting problems with snoring and menopause.