We all know the way snoring affects couples. The man snores so loudly that it wakes his wife up, who elbows him to roll over. Or maybe she kicks him out of the room so she can get some sleep. That’s what we think, but maybe that’s not the whole story.

A new study shows that women are more likely to not report that they snore, even though objective measurements showed they snored about as often as men. In addition, women were much less likely to admit if they were severe snorers. This study gives very important insight that both men and women should take to heart.

man holding his hands over ears while wife snores next to him

Referred for a Sleep Evaluation

This study looks at a total of 1913 consecutive patients at a university hospital that were referred for a sleep evaluation. It asked the people (who all knew why they had been referred) about their snoring, both whether they snored and how loud their snoring was.

Researchers found that women were much more likely to report that they were nonsnorers (28% vs. 7%). However, the rates of snoring among these two populations was virtually the same (88% of women vs. 93% of men).

Not only that, but women were unlikely to admit that they were severe snorers. While 49% of women had this level of snoring, only 40% admitted it. Women also snored about as loud as men. Average maximal intensity was 50 decibels for women and 52 for men. (For comparison, an alarm clock sounds at about 60 decibels).  Many women had a great mismatch between their reported snoring and their level of snoring. In fact, 37% of women who said they didn’t snore at all were actually severe snorers (intensity of 55 decibels or more). In contrast, only 12% of men had this discrepancy.

This study focuses on consecutive patients, which means it includes every patient who was referred for a sleep study during a single two-year period. It’s important to note that although the percentage of snorers was the same in both groups, there were almost twice as many men in the study as women (1238 men vs. 675 women). That means that men are still probably twice as likely to be snorers as women. It’s a significant difference, but nowhere near as big as we often think.

Why Women Don’t Report Snoring

So, why are women less likely to report snoring? Part of it likely relates to the fact that imagine snoring is a man’s problem. On the one hand, this might make women less likely to recognize that they are snorers. They’re being referred to a sleep clinic because of sleep problems, but they don’t think they can snore because that’s a man’s problem.

On the other hand, women might know that they snore, but don’t want to report it because it is such a man’s problem. They are afraid it might make them seem unfeminine.

Finally, it might be their husband’s fault. Snorers often depend on a cosleeper to point out snoring. Men tend to be heavier sleepers, and they might not wake up for women’s snoring as much as women do for men’s. On the other hand, men might wake up, but be reluctant to tell women that they snore, for the same reason that snoring is unfeminine.

Women Need to Get Evaluated for Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Whatever the reason why women don’t report snoring, it’s clear that their snoring is going underreported. This puts them at serious risk. Women who snore likely aren’t getting very good sleep, which can affect their health and their mood. They may even have sleep apnea, which can have deadly consequences.

Women who aren’t getting good sleep should talk to their doctor and get a sleep test done. If you want to learn more about getting a sleep test in Columbus, OH, please call (614) 683-4640 today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian.