By Nancy Rothstein
The Sleep Ambassador
If you’re a woman over 40, you may be a snorer and not even realize it. Or if you know you snore, you may not talk about it with your partner or your doctor. It’s just not ladylike. Yet snoring could have a negative impact on every area of your life.
Women tend to begin snoring later in life than men. Snoring is more common and more severe once we are post-menopausal.
1. The National Sleep Foundation reported that 43 percent of perimenopausal women report experiencing symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as snoring, but that number increases to 50 percent in post-menopausal women.
2. That may be because estrogen has a protective effect on the muscles that dilate your upper airway. When your estrogen levels dip, those muscles tend to relax and your likelihood of snoring increases. Snoring may also be caused by narrow, blocked or obstructed nasal passages.
Because your snoring may be quieter than a man’s, you may not even be aware of it. Or if you are, you may think it’s no big deal. But snoring after menopause can be tied to depression, insomnia, headaches, daytime fatigue and tension.
3. And if you’re too tired to think or concentrate, your workplace performance may also slide. Does this resonate with you? If so, it’s time to take action and make some changes.
Strategies for improving your sleep after age 40
Post-menopausal women may have a higher risk for sleep problems than younger women but fortunately, there are things you can start doing immediately that may improve the quality of your sleep.
• Exercise in the morning. One study published in the journal SLEEP, found that overweight, postmenopausal women who exercised in the morning have an easier time falling asleep and experience a better-quality sleep than evening exercisers.
• Tune out from technology about one hour before bedtime to prevent blue light exposure, which suppresses melatonin the hormone that regulates your sleep/wake cycle.
• Prioritize seven to nine hours of sleep time and establish a consistent wake time (7 days/week). It’s the single-most important cue for setting your internal biological clock.
• Breathe through your nose at night, especially if you snore or suffer from nasal congestion. An option to try is Mute, a small adjustable device that gently inserts inside your nose, opening up your nasal airway (mutesnoring.com). Likely, you will have an ‘aha’ moment when you feel the increased nasal airflow, leading to enhanced breathing and reduced snoring.
• Keep your cool. Choose cotton sheets and sleepwear because they are more breathable. Turn down the thermostat. And try taking a warm shower or bath soon before bedtime. This has a calming effect on your body and mind, and allows your body temperature to naturally drop as you drift into sound sleep.
• Do not look at the clock if you awaken during the night. This stimulates the brain as you start counting the hours of remaining sleep and thinking about the day ahead.
Snoring among women is not as rare as once thought. If you still have sleep issues after trying these tips, it may be time to have a candid talk with your physician or a medical sleep expert about your symptoms.
About the author: As The Sleep Ambassador ® and Director of CIRCADIAN Corporate Sleep Programs, Nancy is dedicated to helping people sleep well so they can live well. Nancy consults and lectures on Sleep Wellness to Fortune 500 corporations, the travel industry, universities and to other organizations, awakening leadership to the ROI of a good night’s sleep and providing sleep education/training initiatives for employees at all levels. Rothstein serves as a member of the NIH Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board.