If you or your partner snore, you are not alone — 37 million Americans snore regularly and about 90 million do it occasionally. But if you are over 60 years and suspect that you or your partner’s snoring is getting worse (and probably louder) over time, chances are you’re right. Aging brings with it multiple health challenges, and snoring is not an exception.
In this article we’ll explain why snoring gets worse with age and its health effects on seniors. We will also explore a couple of treatment options for your consideration — from weight loss to anti-snoring oral appliances.
Why Snoring Gets Worse As You Get Older?
The biggest factor contributing to snoring in seniors is being overweight. As people age, they tend to gain weight — “one out of four adults is overweight” according to a recent study by the Health Policy Institute — and lose muscle tone (sarcopenia) — which also leads to a lower BMI and favors weight gain. As seniors gain weight, the fat is stored around the neck and puts additional pressure on the airway passage, which ultimately causes snoring.
Snoring Health Effects
Everybody knows snoring isn’t great, to say the least, but how bad is it? Below is a list of the health effects linked to snoring in seniors:
Mental Health. Snoring is the result of oxygen deprivation on the blood. Not only can lack of oxygen result in a stroke but it can also lead to mild cognitive impairment, which is the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia.
Heart Disease. We already talked about the relationship between obesity and snoring but there is more to it. In fact, snoring could be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Studies have shown that treating sleep apnea in obese patients can significantly lower thir risk of heart failure.
Lack of Energy. Snoring disrupts your sleep cycles and affects your sleep efficiency. As a result, you may feel restless or groggy during the day. Often times, the lack of proper sleep can also raise your stress levels. And, this “fight or flight” mode can take a toll on your ability to fall asleep — making the lack of energy-snoring a vicious cycle.
Snoring Treatment Options
Consult with your physician if you snore regularly and have a hard time stopping. Your doctor will likely perform a physical exam and ask you the right questions to determine the best course of treatment for your specific case. Here are a couple of treatment options that he may recommend:
Weight Loss. We already covered how being obese can contribute to your snoring problem. The solution: Drop unnecessary weight. Diet and exercise are key habits to a successful and sustainable weight loss plan. This is also a great step towards a better and healthier life.
Sleeping Position. Try switching to a side-sleeping position. Sleeping on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back of your throat, causing a vibrating sound (snoring) while you sleep.
Over-the-counter Snoring Products. There is a wide array of snoring products available on the market: throat sprays, nasal strips and snoring mouthpieces. If you decide to go with a snoring mouthpiece, make sure you know the difference between a TSD and MAD device to choose the best type for you. Here’s a great review on the Good Morning Snoring Solution device for your consideration.