You aren’t imagining it; your snoring may have gotten worse over the years. Dr. Rafael Pelayo of the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center says that snoring can begin at any age, but it does occur more often as you get older.
Earlier this month, he sleep specialist sat down with The Huffington Post to give some insight on what causes snoring, as well as why it gets worse as the years go by.
In particular, snoring is caused by your throat muscles relaxing and narrowing while you are sleeping, with the loud sound being the result of you trying to breathe through the tinier space. Here’s what else you need to know:
Why is your snoring getting worse?
Weight gain, specifically around your neck, contributes to narrowing your throat even more—as well as decreased muscle tone, menopause and other hormonal changes that occur as you age.
What’s the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?
Dr. Pelayo says that while snoring is a narrowing of the throat, sleep apnea is more of a closure with the airway becoming almost blocked. Characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, the sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that significantly impacts your health and overall quality of life.
Do you really have sleep apnea?
While snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, it’s not the only sign. Consider how you feel when you wake up in the mornings. Do you feel un-refreshed and tired? Poor memory, frequent bathroom trips at night, and a rise in your blood pressure are also indicators the sleep apnea might be present.
What are your treatment options?
If you do not have sleep apnea, there plenty of over-the-counter humidifiers that may help you breathe better. Dr. Pelayo recommends giving nasal strips, positional devices, tongue exercises, snoring pillows and nasal sprays a try. Losing weight is also highly recommended by doctors and sleep experts to reduce snoring.
Speak to your doctor about snoring as soon as possible to boost the quality of your sleep and waking up ready to conquer the world.
“[Snoring is] not normal at any age,” Dr. Pelayo explained. “When we’re awake we don’t snore. All snoring is abnormal and is caused by some degree of obstruction in your breathing.”