You’ve likely experienced snoring in one form or another, either in yourself or a sleep partner. Habitual snoring is a health condition caused by the vibration of the soft tissues in the throat. It can affect both men and women equally, although it tends to be more prevalent in males. It is a leading cause of nighttime sleep issues such as sleep deprivation, which causes daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and depression.
It is important to know the underlying cause of snoring in order to treat the problem effectively. In this article, we will discuss some common causes of snoring amongst females and provide you with some practical tips on how to stop it so you can have a restful night’s sleep.
Causes of Snoring in Females
Snoring is a common problem that can affect anyone, including women. Several factors can cause snoring in women.
Your sleep position can have a significant impact on snoring. Sleeping on your back, also known as the supine position, can cause the tongue and soft palate to fall back and obstruct the airway, leading to snoring. This is because the force of gravity pulls these structures towards the back of the throat, making it more difficult for air to flow freely.
On the other hand, sleeping on your side can help to reduce snoring. This is because it helps to keep the airway open and allows air to flow more freely. Additionally, sleeping on your side can help to reduce the likelihood of the tongue and soft palate falling back and obstructing the airway.
There are several ways to encourage side sleeping, such as using a body pillow or placing a tennis ball in a sock and pinning it to the back of your pajamas. This can help to prevent you from rolling onto your back during sleep.
In some cases, changing sleep position may not be enough to completely eliminate snoring. If snoring persists despite changes in sleep position, it is recommended to see a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment options.
As women get older, the likelihood of snoring increases. This is because as we age, our throat muscles and tongue muscles tend to become weaker and lose their tone. This can cause the airway to become more narrow during sleep, making it more difficult for air to flow freely and increasing the likelihood of snoring.
Hormonal changes that occur during menopause can also contribute to snoring in women. This is because decreased estrogen levels can cause the muscles in the airway to become more relaxed, making breathing difficult during sleep.
Weight Gain and Snoring
Being overweight or obese can increase the likelihood of snoring because excess weight gain can put pressure on the airway and make it more difficult to breathe during sleep. This can cause the airway to become more narrow, which can lead to snoring. Carrying excess weight around the neck can also contribute to snoring. This is because the extra tissue can put pressure on the airway and make it more difficult for air to flow freely.
Weight loss can help to reduce snoring in women who are overweight. Even a small amount of weight loss can make a significant difference in snoring severity. If weight loss alone is not enough to eliminate snoring, you should see a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment options. This may include lifestyle changes, such as improving sleep hygiene, using nasal strips, or medical treatments, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or surgery.
Alcohol and Sedatives
Consuming alcohol and taking sedatives can contribute to snoring because they can both cause the muscles in the throat to relax. Alcohol, in particular, is a muscle relaxant that can cause the muscles in the throat to become overly relaxed, making it more difficult to breathe during sleep.
Similarly, sedatives such as sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and muscle relaxants can also cause the muscles in the throat to relax, leading to snoring. These medications can cause a person to sleep more deeply, which can also exacerbate snoring and other sleep-disordered breathing conditions.
If snoring is a problem, try to avoid consuming alcohol and taking sedatives before bed. Instead, try more natural options to induce sleep, such as creating a sleep routine, reading before bed, staying away from electronics that emit blue light, and keeping your home at a cooler temperature at night.
When the nasal passages are congested due to allergies, a cold, or other nasal conditions, a person may be forced to breathe through their mouth during sleep. Breathing through the mouth can cause the tongue and soft palate to fall back and obstruct the airway, leading to snoring.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that can contribute to snoring. In OSA, the airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep, causing a person to stop breathing for brief periods of time. This can cause the person to gasp or choke for air, which can lead to loud snoring and disrupt sleep.
OSA occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open during sleep. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including excess weight, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, or structural abnormalities in the nose or throat.
Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, and many people with OSA experience loud, disruptive snoring. However, not all snorers have OSA, and not all people with OSA snore.
If snoring is accompanied by other symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, or pauses in breathing during sleep, it may be a sign of OSA.
Treatment Options for Women Who Snore
Treatment options for snoring in women depend on the underlying cause of snoring. Some possible treatment options for women who snore include:
- Lifestyle changes: Simple lifestyle changes can often help reduce snoring. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bed, and sleeping on your side.
- Nasal decongestants: If nasal congestion is contributing to snoring, nasal decongestants may help reduce congestion and improve airflow through the nose.
- Nasal devices: Nasal strips or nasal dilator devices can help open up the nasal passages and improve airflow.
- Oral appliances: Oral appliances such as mandibular advancement devices can help to reposition the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open during sleep.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy: This is a common treatment for sleep apnea, which involves wearing a mask over the nose or mouth during sleep to deliver a continuous flow of air pressure to keep the airway open.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove excess tissue in the throat, repair structural abnormalities, or reposition the jaw.
Is Loud Snoring Keeping You Up? Contact Healthy Sleep Midwest!
If you or your bed partner are struggling with frequent snoring that disrupts your sleep, contact Healthy Sleep Midwest for a consultation. We have a number of solutions for treating snoring in women, including a sleep study that you can do from the comfort of your own home.