Have you ever noticed that on holiday you sleep deeper and better than at home? That’s because hotels usually have black-out curtains or blinds. Our human eye (even if it is closed), and our natural rhythm, is easily distracted by artificial light coming from outside, for example, street lights, car headlights or light from neighboring houses, even if they are minimal.
Snoring affects the quality of your sleep
Snoring is classically considered a male problem, but not only men are affected by snoring. Snoring is also widespread among women, so it is not surprising that men also complain about their partners’ snoring. Among young women, the proportion of snorers is relatively low at around 5 percent, but this number increases rapidly from menopause onwards. Among the over 45-year-olds it is 40 percent (compared to 60 percent among men). With increasing age, the frequency of snoring becomes increasingly similar among the sexes.
What causes snoring?
The causes of snoring are the same for women as for men. A slackening of the tissue in the upper respiratory tract leads to a narrowing of the upper respiratory tract and turbulence in the air one breathes. These turbulences can cause the slackened pharyngeal muscles to vibrate, triggering the typical snoring sound. Being overweight, alcohol consumption in the evening, smoking and poor sleep hygiene promote the development of snoring.
In addition, the oestrogen level plays a special role in the development of snoring in women. This sex hormone is produced in the ovaries and is mainly responsible for the maturation of the ova. It also influences the serotonin level, this messenger substance is also involved in sleep regulation and helps to maintain muscle tone.
This explains why the frequency of snorers increases dramatically after menopause. When the ovaries stop their activity, less estrogen is produced, this also lowers the serotonin level. As the muscle tension in the upper respiratory tract is less easily maintained, the tissue tends to slacken and women tend to snore more frequently.
Taking the contraceptive pill can also cause a short-term disruption of the hormonal balance, so that snoring can occur after the pill has been taken. However, this should normalise after a few days or weeks. Otherwise you should think about changing your prescription.
Snoring during pregnancy
Another factor that can also lead to snoring in young women is pregnancy. In the third trimester of pregnancy, 25 percent of pregnant women become snorers. This is mainly due to weight gain, on average a woman gains between 18 to 25 percent of her initial weight by the end of her pregnancy. The resulting excess fatty tissue is also stored in the respiratory tract. This flabby tissue can easily start vibrating as one breathes and thus triggers snoring. In addition, the increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone also cause the nasal and pharyngeal mucous membranes to swell and may lead to an increased frequency of developing head-colds during pregnancy. If the nasal passages are narrowed, snoring also occurs more frequently.
There are clear differences in how snoring is perceived by the sexes.
Men usually sleep deeper and are therefore not as easily woken by their snoring partner. That is why the snorer is often only informed when her snoring is already quite severe. Meanwhile men’s snoring is almost perceived as normal by society, whereas there is little awareness that women are also responsible for nocturnal noise. Often they also have greater difficulty admitting to their snoring, after all, snoring is not generally perceived as “lady-like”, at all.
Here are 5 helpful tips to help you stop snoring:
It is important to deal with the problem of snoring in order to appreciate the benefits of a restful night’s sleep, for both you and your partner!
1) Change your lifestyle
In order to combat snoring, you should first try to positively influence the factors that promote its development.The first step is to reduce your body weight, because being overweight is the main risk factor for snoring. Evening alcohol consumption also promotes snoring, because alcohol causes the throat muscles slacken more. It is also best to stop smoking. In addition, one should be aware that certain medications, such as sleeping tablets and antidepressants can reduce muscle tone in the throat and thus promote snoring.
2) Adopt the right sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is a term that describes the factors of the sleeping environment. These include, for example, a regular day-night rhythm and a relaxed sleeping atmosphere. If these are not present, sleep is less restful and snoring occurs more frequently. Try to always go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time – preferably on weekends as well, so that your body gets used to this rhythm. In addition, you should only use your bed for sleeping and not for watching TV, reading or working. This trains your body to register that getting in to bed means it is time to sleep.
Avoid the supine position: Snoring is most often triggered by lying on one’s back. Gravity can cause the back part of the tongue to slide into the throat, further narrowing the airways. To avoid lying on your back, there are specially shaped pillow, special rucksacks, vests and other forms of positional therapy that encourage you to sleep on your side.
3) Promote nasal breathing
Breathing through the nose is gentler on the deep respiratory tract and also less likely to lead to snoring. However, if the airways are narrowed, the body unconsciously switches to breathing through the mouth, in order to increase the oxygen volume. Therefore, the air in the bedroom should be cool so that the nasal mucous membranes do not swell. Allergy sufferers may require a nasal spray to reduce swelling. There are also so-called nasal dilators that keep the nose open while you sleep.
4) Prevent mouth breathing
If the above tips have not helped, you should look for other possibilities. There are a number of aids available for this purpose. Ask your partner when and how you snore. Snoring is often triggered when you breathe through your mouth at night. To prevent this, there are mouthpieces made of plastic (SomniPax) or chin straps that prevent the mouth opening during sleep.
Caffeine affects the quality of your sleep
People, especially women, depend heavily on coffee and caffeine to keep them going, in a bid to balance family, work and social life. However, caffeine stays in the body for up to 9 hours. So if you plan on going to sleep by eleven p.m. you need to bring your last coffee break back 9 hours to 2 p.m. in order to improve the quality of your sleep. Although you might never have had any problems falling asleep, even after drinking coffee in the evening, the caffeine has an influence on the quality and depth of your sleep The best way to appreciate this phenomenon is to evaluate the increased recovery effect caused by abstaining from caffeine consumption for 9 hours before bedtime to assess whether you feel more refreshed when you wake in the morning.
At Somnishop we are dedicated to finding the best possible solutions for all types of snoring in order to improve your sleep and ultimately, your well-being.