Ask the Sleep Dr:
Do Men Snore More Than Women?
By Kathryn Matthews
Newsflash: Whether you’re a man or woman, there’s a 50 percent chance that you’ll snore at some point in your life, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
People often assume men are the primary noisemakers, but new research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests the gender divide isn’t that wide. Among 1,193 male and female study participants with an average age of 49, researchers who monitored their sleep found that 88 percent of women and 93 percent of men snored with almost identical loudness at around 50 decibels. That’s only a difference of five percent. Here’s the kicker: Only 72 percent of women self-reported their snoring, while nearly 93 percent of men self-reported theirs. That means most men were aware that they snored. Women? Not so much.
Other than providing scientific proof that women snore almost as much and as loudly as their male counterparts (you’re welcome, guys), here’s what else you should know about the snoring battle of the sexes.
Anatomy matters as much as gender
The fact that men tend to be heavier and have larger airways than women can increase their risk of snoring. But skeletal features, like an overbite or short chin can level the playing field. “Interestingly, I have seen women who weren’t overweight but snore horribly, due to their facial structure, like having a shorter mid-face that creates a shorter airway,” says Noah Siegel, M.D., Director of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Surgery at Massachusetts Eye & Ear Harvard Medical School.
Hormones and age can change the game
If you’re wondering why women snore almost as much as men, the reason may be due to declining levels of the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that occur with age (although experts aren’t exactly sure how). “Post-menopausal women are more likely to snore and have sleep apnea,” Siegel explains. “During and after menopause, the incidence of sleep-disordered breathing among women can nearly equal that of men.” In the study, women and men were an average age of 49, which puts women in the menopausal zone.
Bed compatibility is key
It’s important even when you’re unconscious. “A light snorer with a light sleeper is a bad combination!” Siegel says. “On the other hand, a heavy sleeper with a heavy snorer, may not be a big deal.” Worst case scenario? Invest in ear plugs.