Many women can experience snoring, especially those who are overweight, or who are over the age of 50. It can have a negative impact on your sleep quality and energy levels, not to mention the impact on those within ear shot.
Snoring occurs when the tongue and soft tissues at the back of your throat relax during sleep, restricting the passage of air through your upper airways. The snoring sound is from the vibration or flapping of these tissues as air passes by, or from air moving through the narrowed nasal passages. Snoring effects your ability to breathe properly, which ultimately reduces the amount of oxygen your body inhales. In the short-term, this can make you tired, irritable and fatigued, while over the long-term, snoring can raise blood pressure levels and increase your risk of illness.
Another concern is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which involves a more severe restriction of airflow where breathing stops completely. The supply of oxygen can be cut off for anywhere between a few seconds to a minute, causing the sleeper to choke, stir and even wake up until normal breathing is restored. This cycle may repeat itself hundreds of times throughout the night, and while sleep quantity may be normal, sleep quality is low. There will usually be no memory of these awakenings, and many people aren’t even aware that they have a problem.
Factors that can contribute to a narrowing or blockage of the upper airway can include:
- poor sleep posture
- your unique anatomy,
- an injury to the nose, mouth or throat
- being overweight, causing excess fatty tissue around the neck and throat
- temporary congestion and swelling in the airways from alcohol, smoking, illness or acid reflux
So what can you do about it? There are some important lifestyle strategies you can adopt to better manage the condition. Even small reductions in body fat may help improve sleep quality in snorers, and OSA sufferers. Stopping smoking will help reduce inflammation in your airways and reduce the intensity of snoring. Some other suggestions include the restriction of caffeine and alcohol before bed to improve sleep quality, and to avoid sleeping on your back. If snoring persists, check with a health care professional to see if your snoring is related to other health problems. You could also seek advice on the medical cures and treatments available to snorers and OSA sufferers.
Do you snore? Have you made any changes to your lifestyle or sleep habits that have improved your snoring?