45% of all adults snore occasionally, and almost a quarter of us are regular snorers. There are multiple reasons why people snore, including genetics, aging, weight gain, and alcohol consumption. But did you know that menopause can also trigger snoring?
During menopause, hormonal shifts can cause various changes in our bodies, and some women find that their once silent slumber is suddenly not so silent anymore.
Understanding why this happens and how menopause can impact sleep is a crucial part of navigating this transitional stage of life.
Throughout my research, I’ve met several women who developed a snoring problem during menopause, and many of them didn’t realize the issue could be connected to their shifting hormones.
So, is your partner suddenly complaining about your newfound nighttime soundtrack? Are you wondering how to restore silence to your sleep routine? Don’t worry, help is at hand.
In this post, I’ll explain the potential link between menopause and snoring, and share some tips on how to stop the problem in its tracks.
Snoring And Menopause
Before we delve into the intriguing question of whether menopause can cause snoring, let’s take a moment to examine the mechanics of snoring itself.
Snoring is caused by an obstruction to the movement of air through the throat and nasal passages during sleep. This disruption makes the tissues of the respiratory structures vibrate, and the result is the not-so-harmonious sound of snoring. This can lead you and your partner to lose out on precious sleep.
Now, let’s circle back to menopause. Menopause is defined as the moment in a woman’s life when her monthly cycle stops. It officially takes place twelve months after her last period, however, the build-up to menopause, known as perimenopause, begins much earlier.
Does Menopause Cause Snoring?
Yes, declining hormones during perimenopause and menopause can indeed contribute to snoring. Here’s how:
Being overweight or obese is one of the most common risk factors for snoring. And unfortunately, it’s also one of the most prevalent side effects of the menopausal transition.
Many women find that once they hit perimenopause, their healthy diet and exercise routine no longer keep them trim, and their body mass index (BMI) begins to rise.
Menopause-related weight gain tends to accumulate on the abdomen. This excess fat around the middle can put pressure on the upper respiratory tract. This pushes the diaphragm up, compresses the rib cage, and reduces the amount of air that can flow into the lungs. Reduced airflow causes the throat to change shape and collapse downwards, leading to snoring.
Excess fat around the neck and throat area can also cause the airways to narrow, increasing the vibrations of breathing while asleep. Plus, an increase in body fat replaces muscle tone in the throat. As a result, the tissues become soft, and snoring increases.
Excess fat isn’t the only reason for a decline in muscle tone. A decrease in the amount of estrogen in the body can also cause muscles to atrophy, including muscles in the neck and throat. And when the airway is weaker, it changes shape and becomes more susceptible to obstruction.
Some of the most common symptoms of menopause are night sweats and insomnia. And when we suffer from repeated bouts of disturbed sleep, our levels of fatigue increase.
While fatigue alone doesn’t usually cause a snoring problem, it will exacerbate an existing one. That’s because the more tired we are, the more the muscles in the throat become relaxed.
How to Tackle Menopause-Related Snoring
If menopause is causing you to snore, you and your bedmate are probably keen to find relief. Thankfully, there are several ways to reduce snoring or even stop it altogether.
Excess body fat increases the chances of snoring, and of all the women I’ve met throughout my research, weight gain appears to be the primary driver of newfound snoring during menopause. So, if you’re carrying extra pounds, losing weight could eradicate your snoring problem for good.
Weight gain is one of the most detrimental symptoms of menopause. That’s because excess body fat can cause a whole host of other complications, many of them much more serious than snoring. For example, weight gain can trigger sleep apnea, a disorder that causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep.
So, lose weight by adopting healthy lifestyle measures, such as cutting out sugar and refined carbs. It’s also important to get plenty of regular exercise.
The CDC recommends that women aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.
Dehydration alone won’t cause a snoring problem, but it will make it worse. When we are dehydrated, excess mucus can accumulate in the chest and throat. This congestion can increase the volume of your snoring. Congestion is also likely to lead to other sleep disturbances and interfere with the amount of deep and restorative sleep you get each night.
So, keep a glass of water beside your bed, and be sure to drink the optimum amount of fluids during the day. Experts recommend that women drink around 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of water in any 24-hour period.
Change Your Sleeping Position
Some people find that their snoring is worse when they fall asleep on their backs. So, try switching positions and sleeping on your side or your front to see if that makes a difference.
If, like me, you’re prone to moving around during the night, you might find it easier to use pillows to keep your body in the correct sleeping position.
Elevating your head on the bed can also be effective, as the higher angle of your airways can increase airflow. You can do this by simply propping yourself up with pillows or by raising the height of your bed with bed risers.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and makes snoring much worse. It also disrupts your sleep in many other ways, too.
According to a 2002 study, increased alcohol consumption decreases the amount of REM sleep we get each night. REM sleep is particularly important as it’s the most restorative phase of sleep. It’s linked to brain development, memory consolidation, and emotional processing.
So, cut back on the number of alcoholic drinks you consume per week, and try to avoid all alcohol for at least three hours before you go to bed.
Visit Your Doctor
If your snoring is so bad that it’s causing you or your partner to lose sleep at night, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor.
They can perform a thorough examination and rule out any underlying causes, such as sleep apnea. In some cases, they may also be able to help you find a treatment plan that can reduce the severity of your snoring.
Examples include nasal strips and nasal dilators, which work by increasing the airflow in your nasal passages to make breathing less labored and more effective. This can eliminate snoring for some people.
How long your snoring will last depends on the underlying cause behind it. It may be a temporary issue related to menopause symptoms, or it may persist as a chronic problem long after the menopausal transition is complete. If weight gain has triggered snoring, the problem will only go away once you’ve lost the extra pounds.
Snoring might not seem like a serious problem, but if left unchecked, chronic snoring can impact your overall health. Sleep disturbances are associated with all kinds of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and mood disorders.
While there are no clear statistics relating to how many women snore during menopause, research shows that approximately 28% of adult females regularly snore.
While snoring is one of the lesser-known side effects of menopause, it affects a surprisingly large number of women. While snoring alone doesn’t present any health risks, if the problem is left unchecked, it can seriously impact your and your partner’s quality of sleep.
Losing weight is one of the biggest changes you can make to relieve the problem of snoring. So, if you have a few extra pounds to lose, now is the time to make lifestyle changes and get your weight back under control.
If snoring continues to be an issue, visit your doctor. They can assess your symptoms, rule out any underlying causes, and suggest a treatment plan that can help.