According to Dr Angela Campbell, Manager of WellSleep Centre, University of Otago, snoring is more common in post-menopausal women with rates of up to a staggering 67% reported. Yet the stigma surrounding women and snoring is the elephant in the room that nobody talks about.
Snoring and sleeplessness coexist uncomfortably, like a bed containing two restless insomniacs. The flow-on ramifications of this for a romantic relationship may lead to both parties feeling resentment, frustration, and often in the case of the woman, a sense of embarrassment and shame at snoring.
The elephant in the room
As a part of unpacking the shame that women feel about snoring, it’s important to note that there are variety of social and cultural reasons why women feel this way.
One 2007 study from the University of Surrey demonstrated that there was a gendered conception of snoring which was problematic for women. Women who snored were embarrassed because they believed snoring was an unattractive and unfeminine problem. Secondly, they dreaded their partner sharing this information outside of the confines of their relationship. And finally, women who had a snoring partner would often make excuses for their partner’s snoring and downplay it, prioritising their partner’s sleep over their own.
Dr Michael Breus PhD discusses the latest in snoring scientific studies in his popular Psychology Today sleep blog. He reveals that poor sleep diminishes our ability to manage conflict in relationships and reduces our ability to feel empathy for others. Other studies Dr Breus mentions reveal that snoring makes couples less appreciative of each other and leads people to be driven to selfishness in relationships.
So that’s all the doom and gloom, where does the good news come in? According to the University of Otago’s Dr Angela Campbell – the answer to your sleepless night may be closer at hand than you think.
Why do menopausal women snore?
There are a lot of gaps in our knowledge when it comes to sleep disturbances and menopause, however there are effective behavioural and pharmacological therapies available to help treat these sleep problems.
“Melatonin is a hormone that helps control our sleep wake cycle and the reduction in this during menopause may be partly responsible for some of the insomnia symptoms women experience,” says Dr Campbell of the WellSleep Centre at the University of Otago. Around 60% of women will experience insomnia during menopause – snoring’s troublesome twin.
“The first step to help with poor sleep during menopause is to discuss this with your family doctor.” Says Dr Campbell. Your GP will be able to discuss the options and they may refer you to a sleep clinic for a further assessment.
During menopause, “Reduced progesterone [hormone] can affect the activity of the muscles in the upper airway and mean that during sleep these muscles are more likely to over-relax and reduce the size of the airway and in turn result in the airway closing off. This is obstructive sleep apnoea,” says Campbell.
Here are some other factors to keep in mind
- There's a link between snoring and other symptoms of menopause like hot flushes, night sweats, and hormonal changes.
- Snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea (repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep) are common for up to 67% of menopausal women.
- Snoring may be associated with the weight gain that happens often during menopause, however this is only one factor at play.
- Decreases in the hormone progesterone in menopausal women can affect the muscles in the upper airway, leading them to relax and close, which is obstructive sleep apnoea.
The independent clinical study at the University of Otago was made up of a cohort of couples aged between 42-61 years old. They were of diverse ethnic backgrounds and body compositions. 89% of the people who completed the study experienced a reduction in snoring, as reported by their partners.
“My husband has noticed a considerable decrease in my snoring. It is so comfortable. Last year l had 3 breast operations, the last one in October ending up with a mastectomy of one breast. The Patney helped me to be comfortable" says Caroline from Wellington.
Patney is the result of many years of hard graft testing prototypes. Its founder and creator Waikato lady Frances Anderson is a life-long snorer herself, and spent decades looking for the right solution to no avail, until she created Patney. Now she is quietly changing the lives and relationships of couples affected by snoring.
For fans of Patney, solving the complex puzzle of insomnia, snoring, menopause and romantic partnerships has become far simpler with the use of this scientifically sound and clinically proven sleep positioner.
By unpacking and analysing the last taboo of women and snoring, couples can find better ways to navigate through their sleepless nights, with their dignity and mutual respect still intact, and both sides of the bed still warm and occupied.
Find out more www.patney.com