Battle of the Sexes: Why Do Men Snore More Than Women?
Do men snore more than women? The simple answer to this question is yes. There are sex differences when we’re talking about snoring.
If you type ‘snoring’ into a Google image search, guess what comes up? The vast majority are pictures showing men, mouths wide open lying next to women with pillows wrenched over their ears.
Now if that doesn’t tell you something, I’m not sure what will.
You’ve probably had personal experience with men snoring more than women. But why do men snore more than women? Read on to find out.
The Truth Hurts
It’s a cliché, but one that’s based on some truth.
At least twice as many men snore than women. So, while this means that more men snore. Women snore too. We’re all human at the end of the day and snoring is an unfortunate but normal part of life.
Even though snoring isn’t just a male problem, there are clear differences. Let’s explore what they are and how they can affect your life.
What Causes Snoring?
First things first, since all people snore, it’s helpful to understand what causes it. Regardless of your sex, there’s many causes of snoring.
While snoring can be caused by the obstruction of the nose. It’s also caused by the excessive growth of adenoid tissue. Other types of snoring are simply a consequence of the fact that, as humans, we can speak.
As language evolved, human’s voice boxes dropped lower in the neck and created a space behind the tongue called the oropharynx. Like all other muscles, the tongue relaxes when you sleep. It then falls back into this space, especially when lying on your back.
Of course, this obstructs breathing and causes snoring.
Why Do Men Snore?
So, as we’ve explained, the relaxed tongue plays an important role in snoring.
Importantly, the space (the oropharynx) is bigger in men than women. This partly explains why men snore more often and louder than women.
If you’ve heard a man snoring before, you’ll know what we mean when we say “louder than women”. There’s something about the snoring of a man that can rattle the windows and keep an entire household awake. Because of this, it’s important to delve into the reasons why snoring affects men more than women.
The truth is that men’s airways are primed for snoring.
The anatomy of men’s airways differs from women’s. These crucial differences have an impact on the way men snore
The first difference is that there’s more soft tissue in the actual noise-makers themselves. The male soft palate has a larger surface area. This soft palate is a key roleplayer in the generation of snoring sounds.
The ugly truth is that there’s simply more tissue to flap around and make a noise.
Along with this, men’s upper airway is more prone to obstruction. The area between the epiglottis and the hard palate is bigger in men. This means there are larger areas of unsupported soft tissue which we know relaxes when asleep.
Men gain fat on the neck and other areas which can cause snoring. Your airway is more likely to collapse if there’s more weight on your neck. Increased neck size and fat on your neck therefore greatly increases your snoring risk.
It’s well-known that obesity is a central risk factor in snoring. Men and woman generally put on weight in different areas which influences snoring patterns.
While women tend to gain fat on their hips, thighs, and buttocks, men put it on around their neck and chest.
Snoring worsens with age. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that, if you’re a woman, this isn’t quite the case.
While snoring has a direct connection to age, men still snore more than women in their later years. As men age, they have greater collapsibility of the upper airway. In addition, the size of their pharynx changes based on the volume of the lung. It’s no surprise that this causes men to snore more.
Women, in contrast, have lower collapsibility of the upper airway. They also have a smaller pharynx than men. Women, therefore experience far fewer increases in snoring as the age. As usual, women come out top in this regard.
In general, men and women sleep in different positions.
Men are much more likely to sleep on their back and women on their side. This posture difference is a critical reason why men snore more than women.
When a man lies on his back, the weight of his stomach and chest presses down on the upper belly and chest.
This is especially true, as a pillow raises the head above the body. This causes the opening between the nose and mouth to close and thus, causes even more intense snoring. Men have heavier chests and stomachs than most women, which adds to the pressure when asleep.
In contrast, as women usually sleep on their sides, even if they do snore, the intensity is usually lessened by their sleeping posture.
We all know that Testosterone is the main male sex hormone. Testosterone is responsible for the development of reproductive tissue. But it also plays a part in snoring.
This is another reason why men are more likely to snore than women.
A number of studies have researched the effects of testosterone on breathing during sleep. Though the exact mechanism is uncertain, testosterone has been linked to increased airway collapsibility. Along with this, its shown to increase the risk of breathing instability which leads to snoring and sleep apnea.
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) experience disturbed breathing during sleep. PCOS is characterized by increased levels of testosterone in women. This supports the connection between testosterone and snoring. Women with PCOS also have a greater risk of developing sleep apnea.
Female Hormones Help
Women who don’t have PCOS are further protected from disturbed sleep and snoring by their female hormones. Doctors confirm that estrogen and progesterone provide some protection against sleep apnea and snoring.
Progesterone promotes steady ventilation during sleep. During pregnancy, the hormone Progesterone is particularly high. The result is that there’s a minimized drop in airflow during sleep. The soft airway is, therefore, less prone to collapse.
Estrogen also plays a role in preventing snoring. An unexpected side effect of estrogen is that it enhances the ability of a key muscle in the tongue to contract. This reduces the likelihood of the tongue falling back and causing a blockage.
Women are therefore assisted by these protective hormones. However, during menopause, these two hormones decline significantly. Women are therefore at higher risk of snoring and apnea during menopause.
How to Stop Snoring
By now, it’s clear that men face a number of factors that make them more prone to snoring.
But just because men aren’t solely responsible for their snoring, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to prevent or at least minimize it.
Research shows that improving certain lifestyle habits can have a very positive effect on a man’s snoring risk. Getting regular exercise, improving diet, ample water intake is all examples of simple lifestyle adjustments.
In addition, cutting down on smoking and alcohol has been found to be highly effective in reducing the intensity of men’s snoring. Most people will be familiar with the post red wine snore that could destroy even the deepest sleeper’s slumber.
Adjusting sleeping positions and rolling over during the night sleep can also do wonders.
Snoring Aids to the Rescue
In general, snoring can be categorized into 3 main types. Nasal Throat, and Tongue Snoring. Some people’s snoring is caused by a combination of two of these.
Luckily today, there’s a range of extremely effective aids that prevent and minimize snoring. From anti-snoring pillows to tongue guards, there simply is no excuse not to try out one of these fantastic options.
You won’t realize how much snoring is affecting you or your partner’s life until you try a snoring aid. No more drowsy days. No more irritable mornings. A restful night’s sleep is possible with snoring aids.
What’s the Next Step?
The answer to your question, “why do men snore?” should be answered by now.
The battle of the sexes is won by women. No surprises there. They’re quieter sleepers, due to an impressive range of features that help them not to snore.
Men are the ultimate snorers in the snoring match. The idea that men are noisy sleepers couldn’t be more accurate. This means women are almost always on the receiving end.
It’s time for men to mend their ways. They need to play an active role in the effort to reduce their own snoring.
If you or your partner are experiencing sleep disturbances, it’s time for the next step. Contact us to learn more about preventing snoring. You both deserve the chance of a restful night’s sleep.
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