It is not enough that baby boomers, after reaching their senior years, have to deal with the usual challenges like diminished capacity, retirement, wrinkles and liver spots. Now we are being told our snoring, which used be one of our more endearing traits, will worsen as we age.
While our snoring was once described affectionately as “purring”, our noisy sleeping habits will, no doubt, soon be compared to the deafening roar of a locomotive. Hardly reassuring, it suggests that as seniors we will yet again be faced with another obstacle to overcome.
Looser muscles lead to more snoring
When a person ages the body slows down and a new version of emerges, typically much different than the body known when once just thirty years old. Unless you have been running marathons all of your life the muscles in the body will begin to lose their tone and flesh starts to loosen giving way to love handles and flabby skin tissue.
The same applies to the muscles around your airway. The tongue, jaw and throat can experience the same physiological changes as other muscles and lose their tone. As a consequence they demand more living space causing the airway to narrow during sleep. These loose muscles will also vibrate when breathing occurs contributing to more frequent snoring.
Along with snoring come certain deficits
If snoring is more common among seniors and the frequency of snoring occurs more often than in a younger person, then it certainly becomes a health concern that we need to take more seriously. Snoring can be a major contributor to fatigue and lethargy.
Tiredness can impact significantly on our activities of daily living affecting motor functioning and the abilities to concentrate and focus. It becomes clear then how snoring and it’s after affects can sour a senior’s quality of life. Something simple like driving a motor vehicle can suddenly become a risk not only to the driver but to other drivers and pedestrians as well.
Snorers also have a higher risk of high blood pressure and stroke. These are not particularly comforting facts for seniors given that they are, for the most part, already at high risk for the same medical conditions anyway.
Some tips that might help
But despite the sometimes grave concerns associated with snoring there are some simple steps that can be taken to combat our night time habits.
- As a senior, employing a daily ritual of exercise can help strengthen body muscle and maintain tone.
- Another form of exercise that will benefit our throat muscles is singing. The act of singing will help exercise and tone the important muscles in the throat allowing for less constriction of the airway. So join a church or community choir and sing your hearts out!
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and tranquillizers before bedtime. These substances can heavily sedate muscles causing your airways to narrow.
- Restrict food consumption to at least three hours before retiring. Eating snacks late at night can initiate saliva and mucous production thereby affecting breathing.
- When going to sleep position your body on its side and not on your back. When you sleep on your back your lower jaw tends to open slightly resulting in snoring.
- If possible raise the head of your bed up several inches. You can accomplish this by placing pillows strategically beneath your head. This will permit a greater and easier flow of air through the throat and nasal passages.
- If your room is dry place a humidifier close by to keep mouth and throat moist. A throat that is dry will vibrate more than one that is moist.
- There are some excellent anti-snoring dental and devices available on the market that you might to give a try.
The last resort; separate sleeping quarters
Another plan of action used by some couples to fight snoring is the second bedroom or snore room. The practice of retreating to a second bedroom has become so popular among some seniors that the housing industry has begun incorporating the second bedroom in house designs.
Both bedrooms share the same master bathroom but exist as an alternative place to sleep if snoring or insomnia becomes too much of a nuisance. It might be an expensive way for most of us to handle the problems of snoring but it speaks to how widely spread this snoring problem is, in our society.
Once you have tried some or all of these tips to alleviate the problem of snoring and you or your partner find the habit continues to persist it is wise to consult with your personal physician.
There is always the risk of having a sleep apnea which can cause greater health problems. Your doctor can properly assess your condition and suggest the proper medical surgical or non-surgical treatment options for you and your snoring issue.