You Don’t Have To Be Old, Male Or Overweight To Have Sleep Apnea
You’re probably like thousands of others who think that only older, overweight or sick men suffer from sleep apnoea. If this is the case, you’re wrong. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that as many as 26% of adults as young as 30 to 70 years have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and more and more sufferers are women. Sadly, many are often misdiagnosed or not even diagnosed when they seek help, due to stereotyping.
A thick neck and loud snoring is not the only indication that you have sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It causes breathing to stop and start during sleep, as throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep.
It affects many people, even those who have a normal weight, any gender or age and even those who don’t snore. However, women are often mis-diagnosed or under-diagnosed. There are many reasons for this. To start with, women’s snoring is more often lighter and breathing problems are less noticeable. Apnea events are also shorter for women. While most women do not fit the existing stereotype of an OSA sufferer – being overweight, older, male with a thick neck and loud snores – they may not get an immediate diagnosis.
Depression, mood swings and constant fatigue
Women with OSA may display signs of insomnia, restless leg syndrome, waking often or frequent trips to the bathroom at night. Hormone fluctuations and depression are fairly common in women over 30, so many women seek relief from medication. This may also mask OSA.
Sleep apnea impacts co-sleeping
Studies have shown that OSA can also have a significant impact on relationships. This contributes towards stress and depression for both parties. Women appear to be more sensitive to their partner’s sleeping behavior. So partners of snorers are also affected by sleep related problems.
Importantly, if you have symptoms that could be related to OSA then you must speak to your doctor. Ask your specialist to specifically rule out a sleep disorder or obstructive sleep apnea.
Treatments for OSA include:
Obstructive sleep disorder is treatable. Below are some treatments available:
- Orofacial myofunctional therapy
- Nutritional supplements can help. Check for those with specific ingredients to help you sleep that are not habit forming.
- Sleep aids, such wedge pillows,, bite guards etc are helpful. Ensure your bed is as comfortable and sleep friendly
- Use of a CPAP oral appliance
- Regular and relevant exercise, such as strength training paired with yoga will help. There are many supportive products and services to help you get a good night’s sleep
- Laser therapy for lax palatal tissue
- Releasing tethered oral tissues
- or any combination of the above treatments