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Do Women Snore? 7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Prevent Snoring

There's a steady stereotype that men generally snore more than women. But is it actually true? Find out all about female snoring and ways to get rid of it.
Snoring in women

Is snoring normal?

Snoring is an annoying sound caused due to the obstruction of air movement in breathing while sleeping. The noisy breathing sounds, like whistles, wheezes, or rattles, signal that there is a blockage in your airway.

Your partner or roommates are the ones who are disturbed by the night symphonies. People who snore may be blissfully unaware of the discomfort they cause to others.

However, snoring can be more than just a nuisance. While there are some routine reasons for blocking air passage like cold or allergies, chronic snoring could be the sign of a deeper problem or can be a symptom of a serious health condition. 

Vibrations caused due to snoring may result in inflammation in the artery and trauma. Such changes result in atherosclerosis, a condition in which arteries become hard and cause several vascular diseases. 

Snoring is associated with many uncomfortable complications, like daytime sleepiness, concentration issues, and elevated risks of accidents.

In short, chronic and loud snoring is not normal. It is important to talk to your doctor if you or your spouse has snoring issues. The doctor will help you determine why snoring occurs. Understanding the cause will ultimately help in treating the problem. Treatment is important for you and your partner to have better sleep every day.

Do men snore more than women?

There are definite gender distinctions when it comes to those sleep-disrupting sounds. Yes, men snore more than women.

There exist anatomical differences in the bodies of both women and men that cause men to take the lead. 4 out of every 10 men snore, in comparison to roughly 3 out of 10 women.

Men are born with air channels that are narrower than women’s—and this causes unpleasant noise during night time. The narrower the air passage, the harder it is for the oxygen to flow during the normal breathing activity. Also, when air is forced through a narrow opening, the tissues surrounding it vibrate aggressively and snoring becomes louder as a result.

Statistically, men consume alcohol more often than females do; they are also more likely to consume it in excess. The tendency to smoke is more in men as compared to women, leaving them vulnerable to snoring as a side effect.

However, snoring is not necessarily a “men’s” or “women’s” health issue but a general one.  There are some reasons for snoring that only females can have, or are more susceptible to over men.

Reasons for snoring in females

There are several factors that can cause snoring in women. These include:

Weight gain

Weight gain is one of the reasons for snoring loud. Hormonal imbalance, pregnancy, and menopause are the transitional phases in which there is an alteration in a women’s metabolism. Snoring and weight gain are closely associated. Excessive weight leads to skin build up around the neck area. This excess fat narrows the air passage and causes a hindrance in the airflow, resulting in the loud sound that we call snoring. 

Pregnancy

Snoring in pregnancy is a very common thing. Snoring during pregnancy is caused by expanding blood vessels in the nasal cavity and the excess weight that comes along with it.

Exhaustion 

When we are really exhausted, muscle tissues are a little more in a relaxation mode and make the night noise process (snoring) worse. The larynx gets very relaxed when they are tired and it causes the snoring effect or pattern. 

Menopause

Menopause can reduce muscle tone in the throat, causing female snoring. During the perimenopause, a woman's ovaries gradually reduce production of estrogen and progesterone. As a result, women report issues like hot flashes, insomnia, mood disorders, and sleep-disordered breathing. Sleep problems are often accompanied by snoring. Snoring, accompanied by pauses or gasps in breathing are symptoms of a more serious sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The "apnea" in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds.

Sleep apnea or Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the obstruction of air flow is severe, resulting in alleviated, compromised, or completely choked air flow while trying to breathe. It can cause a kind of snoring when a person momentarily stops breathing for short time intervals between snores, and thus produce choking or gasping sounds.

Snoring in pregnancy

Many pregnant women snore due to nasal congestion and an increase in abdominal girth. During pregnancy, the blood vessels in the nasal cavity expand. This leads to nasal congestion causing snoring. Snoring can cause high blood pressure, that puts both the mother and the unborn baby at risk.

How to prevent snoring

7 ways to prevent snoring

Control your weight

Excess weight around the neck squeezes the internal diameter of the throat. The neck fat compresses the airways when you lie down and triggers snoring. Losing excessive weight can slim down the fat tissue in the neck and help reduce snoring.

Choose the right pillows

Anti-snoring pillows prevent your airways from getting blocked. Dust mites get accumulated in pillows and can result in allergic reactions leading to snoring. If you feel obstructions in breathing during the night, these allergens may be contributing to your snoring.

Put your pillows in the air fluff cycle once every two weeks and change them every 6 months to keep dust mites and substances causing allergic reactions to a minimum. Use wedge pillows that elevate your upper part of the body and align your spine to keep your air passage fully open. This definitely helps in reducing snoring problems. 

Stay hydrated

A hydrated nose is a happy nose. Dehydration increases thick mucus secretion in the mouth and throat that sticks and causes snoring. Drinking plenty of fluids cures snoring to some degree. Healthy women should drink about eleven cups of water in total (from all fluids and food) every day.

Check your nasal passages

Blocked airway is one of the major reasons people snore. Open nasal passages allow air to move through slower. This prevents snoring.

Some ways to keep your nasal passages open include:

  • Using nasal strips on the bridge of the nose to increase the space in the nasal passage. This makes breathing more effective thereby reducing snoring.
  • Using a nasal dilator — a type of adhesive strip with embedded splints applied on top of the nose across the nostrils, that decreases airflow resistance, to assist in keeping the airway open.
  • Trying antihistamine pills or a nasal spray to get rid of allergies.

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Maintain sleep hygiene

Adequate and consistent sleep on a comfortable bed, in a cool and dark room are important for maintaining a good sleep hygiene.

Some tips for getting a good and adequate sleep to reduce snoring include:

  • Follow a strict routine for going to bed and waking up.
  • Use good quality blinds or heavy curtains to keep out the light while sleeping.
  • Keep mobile devices and any other electronic devices at a distance close to bedtime.

Stay away from alcohol before bed

Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles causing snoring.  This means you will have less control over your throat muscles and tongue. As a result, the throat muscles will vibrate more when you breathe in and out. More the vibration, the louder you will snore. Avoid alcohol consumption in the hours leading up to bedtime.

Pick a healthy sleep position

Sleeping on the back makes your tongue and soft palate crumple to the back side of your throat. This causes your air passage to become smaller and narrower. The result is a vibrating sound (snoring) during sleep. Sleeping on the side can help prevent the tongue from blocking the airway. In a nutshell, picking a healthy sleep position can prevent snoring.

Polysomnogram

Polysomnogram: should you have a sleep study if you snore?

Polysomnogram (PSG) or a sleep study is an electronic test that transmits and records your brain waves, heart rate, breathing, and blood oxygen level while you sleep. The test also records several physical activities like the movement of your legs and eyes while you sleep. 

During the test, multiple sensors are attached to the person’s body while he or she is sleeping. The test serves as a diagnostic tool in sleep medicine. The recordings serve as data that a qualified sleep specialist investigates and analyzes to find out if you have a sleep disorder (such as obstructive sleep apnea).

There are 4 kinds of sleep studies.

Diagnostic overnight PSG 

This involves monitoring of body functions during sleep like blood oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing and limb movements.

Diagnostic daytime multiple sleep latency test (MSLT)

This test helps to diagnose narcolepsy (A neurological disorder that causes overwhelming daytime sleepiness and drowsiness). It monitors how quickly you fall asleep in silent situations how often you enter REM sleep during the day. 

Two-night evaluation PSG and CPAP titration

On first night, after diagnostic investigation and general monitoring, if sleep apnea is discovered, you need to come back for a second night to investigate the right air pressure for continuous positive airway pressure treatment (CPAP). This device delivers oxygen into your air channels through a specially designed nasal mask.

Split-night PSG with CPAP titration 

This is an overnight PSG performed with a 2-hour period of baseline sleep study information, followed by a continuous positive airway pressure treatment (CPAP) if moderate or chronic sleep apnea has been discovered or there is some suspicion during the part of the 1st-night recording. The 2nd half of the night is used to figure out the CPAP pressure required to offset sleep apnea.

These studies are designed to diagnose sleep disorders, including:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Circadian rhythm disorders
  • Parasomnias
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless leg syndrome

There is nothing more rattling than waking up to your wife snoring louder than a chainsaw. Gone are the days, when snoring was assumed to be a men’s health issue. It can affect anyone. Snoring results in more lost sleep and irritability than most people realize. It is a potent trigger for disappointment, anger, bitterness, ridicule, and resentment in relationships. Sleep specialists offer some behavioral remedies for snoring treatment like losing weight, avoiding tranquilizers and alcohol for at least 4 hours and heavy meals or snacks for 3 hours before retiring to bed, exercising, and sleeping on the side rather than the back.

For women who struggle with snoring issue, it is always prudent to consult with a sleep specialist first before trying anything drastic.

 

Ah-See, K. W., Stewart, M., Banham, S. W., Robinson, K., Carter, R., & Wilson, J. A. (1998). Systematic analysis of snoring in women. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, 107(3), 227-231.
Ashour, M. E. S., Zedan, M. A. E. H., & Farahat, A. H. (2018). Sleep pattern changes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. The Egyptian Journal of Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis, 67(2), 99.
Chuang, L. P., Lin, S. W., Lee, L. A., Li, H. Y., Chang, C. H., Kao, K. C., ... & Chen, N. H. (2017). The gender difference of snore distribution and increased tendency to snore in women with menopausal syndrome: a general population study. Sleep and Breathing, 21(2), 543-547.
Huang, T., Lin, B. M., Redline, S., Curhan, G. C., Hu, F. B., & Tworoger, S. S. (2018). Type of Menopause, Age at Menopause, and Risk of Developing Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Postmenopausal Women. American journal of epidemiology, kwy011.
Kotecha, B., & Shneerson, J. M. (2003). Treatment options for snoring and sleep apnoea. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 96(7), 343.
Marshall, N. S., Bartlett, D. J., Matharu, K. S., Williams, A., & Grunstein, R. R. (2007). Prevalence of treatment choices for snoring and sleep apnea in an Australian population. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 3(07), 695-699.
Nigro, C. A., Dibur, E., Borsini, E., Malnis, S., Ernst, G., Bledel, I., ... & Nogueira, F. (2018). The influence of gender on symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep and Breathing, 1-11.
Sandler, P. H. (1988). U.S. Patent No. 4,748,702. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Westbrook, P. R. (1990, January). Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 135-136). Elsevier.

 

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