While obstructive sleep apnea can impact any demographic, men are afflicted with the condition in a majority. Statistically, around 24-31% of males and 9-21% of females experience the condition at some point in their lives. As always, it’s important to consider the individual when assessing or treating anything, as anyone can exhibit “atypical” symptoms while not showing more obvious signs of a condition.
What to Keep in Mind:
– OSA impacts men two to three times more often than women.
– Not every man who has sleep apnea is overweight or particularly unhealthy, with many star athletes suffering from the condition.
– Men are more likely to experience the “classic” symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea such as excessively loud snoring, gasping in the middle of the night, and daily fatigue.
– Certain indicators vary in women and men, such as neck size (>17”, >16” in women).
– Hypoxia at night is known to cause a decreased testosterone level, low sperm count, and erectile dysfunction.
– Men are more likely to experience a higher apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) than women.
Conditions related to obstructive sleep apnea that affect men at a higher percentage must also be taken into consideration, such as heart disease, which causes 1 in 4 male deaths in the US (321,000 a year). By the age of 45, high blood pressure is more likely to be experienced by men than women.
Sleep apnea’s impact on mental health is also worth noting, considering that depression and personal stress is often ignored or taken more lightly in men. Even without the potential personal ramifications of possibly being isolated from your partner due to snoring (many sleep apnea sufferers find themselves sleeping alone). Lack of sleep takes a psychological toll. Certain studies suggest that more than 40 percent of people with obstructive OSA had some depressive symptoms.
Men of every age should take care of themselves and are encouraged to seek medical help when they think something is wrong. That is why dental professionals should evaluate ANYONE bringing up snoring or chronic fatigue during evaluations for sleep apnea, and open the conversation about sleep health.
Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. (2017, August 23). Retrieved from CDC
Lin, C. M., Davidson, T. M., & Ancoli-Israel, S. (2008, December). Retrieved from NCBI
Bixler, E. O., Vgontzas, A. N., Ten, T., Tyson, K., & Kales, A. (1998, January). Effects of age on sleep apnea in men: I. Prevalence and severity. Retrieved from NCBI
Ejaz, S. M., Khawaja, I. S., Bhatia, S., & Hurwitz, T. D. (2011, August). Retrieved from NCBI
Sleep Statistics – Research & Treatments | American Sleep Assoc. (n.d.). Retrieved from the American Sleep Association
This article was republished with permission from Sleep Group Solutions (SGS). SGS offers dental sleep medicine training and education. Find out more here.