“Hot flushes, irritability, fatigue, night sweats, anxiety, weight gain - you name the menopausal symptom, I suddenly seem to have it. One thing I didn’t count on was my husband complaining about my snoring, however. I often wake to find he has retreated to the peace of the guest room.
When I am already feeling miserable, unattractive and vulnerable, having him choose not to sleep beside me is a big blow. I’m desperate to get the snoring under control. I am wondering if the snoring is related to menopause or if it’s just a coincidence?” Snoring in women certainly does increase in the time leading up to menopause. Before mid-life, the ratio of men to women snorers is about 2:1 but as women get older, this gap reduces dramatically.
There are differing theories as to why this happens, but it’s likely that a combination of factors is responsible including the extra weight most women pick up, hormone fluctuations which change the locations of fat deposits, leading to bulked up soft tissue in the airway, and simple loss of muscle tone in the throat muscles making them a little slacker and causing the soft tissue of the airway to sink, restricting the flow of air and leading to snoring.
So, yes, snoring is another of the unpleasant things associated with the change of life.
"As I am getting older and approaching menopause, I seem to have started snoring – if I’m not lying awake due to insomnia and night sweats, then I am snoring! Do you have any ideas as to how I can stop? It’s affecting my energy levels during the day and my husband is getting very frustrated"
This unglamorous issue can certainly knock your confidence as you start to age but there are solutions.
A lifestyle change will obviously help.
Watching your weight, getting some exercise avoiding large meals and cutting down on drinking alcohol close to bedtime will all help to reduce snoring. Visit your doctor and rule out any underlying medical conditions such as allergies or sinusitis. A simple solution for snoring is to try an anti-snoring mouthpiece. It will gently reposition your lower jaw further forward during sleep, preventing the soft tissue and tongue from falling backwards and partially blocking the airway which leads to snoring. It’s easy to use, comfortable and effective.
Could snoring be making my other menopausal symptoms worse?
Yes, snoring and your menopausal symptoms could be working together in a vicious cycle. People who suffer from sleep disordered breathing often suffer from weight gain as they crave more carbohydrates to compensate for the lack of energy caused by poor sleep. You might also feel too tired to get sufficient exercise, also causing weight gain. This added weight causes even more snoring and the cycle continues. Feeling exhausted also exacerbates feelings of depression and anxiety which are common in menopause. Addressing your snoring can therefore relieve some of the common symptoms of menopause.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring
"I live alone so my snoring doesn’t bother anyone. Should I still mention it to my doctor?"
Yes, definitely. Snoring causes poor quality sleep which will affect your health and well-being. Snoring can also be indicative of a more serious condition called Sleep Apnea. The Two Types of Sleep Apnea Obstructive Sleep Apnea, caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep and Central Sleep Apnea, when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.
Snoring leads to noise and interrupted sleep, while sleep apnea causes the sufferer to stop breathing during sleep. Symptoms of sleep apnea include waking up with a very sore or dry throat, loud snoring, occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation, sleepiness while driving, waking with a headache, restless sleep, decreased libido, mood swings, forgetfulness and frequent waking at night or insomnia.
The fatigue that sleep apnea causes is severe and patients report needing to nap during the day, falling asleep watching television, driving or talking to someone. Work performance and motivation also tend to suffer.
Sleep apnea is also closely related to high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, headaches and heart conditions such stroke, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and heart attacks making it a much more serious problem than snoring and worth ruling out as a cause of your snoring.