women and sleep apneaStudies have shown that men are twice as likely to develop sleep apnea as women, but this may be due to misdiagnoses in women. While it’s true that one of the greatest risk factors for sleep apnea is being male, this doesn’t mean women don’t also suffer from snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. In fact, sleep apnea in women is often mistaken for things like hypertension, hypochondria and depression. Whether willing to admit it or not, women do snore.

Women with sleep apnea are harder to diagnose than men

Primary indicators for the disease tend to be that a patient is male, middle-aged and overweight, however, women tend to have different symptoms than men when it comes to sleep apnea. Rather than the more classic symptoms of snoring, sleepiness during the day and pauses in breath at night, women are more likely to report insomnia, restless legs, depression, lack or energy and sleepiness. Women also tend to have more subtle breathing disturbances, making them more difficult to diagnose and less likely to be referred for a sleep study.

Sleep tests have been developed that can help! Learn more about your risks by taking a quick test here.

A study by UCLA determined that women with sleep apnea are more profoundly affected in the areas of the brain that regulate mood and decision making than their male counterparts. Because women are already more likely to suffer from insomnia, depression and daytime fatigue, these symptoms can be magnified. Women also benefit from more deep sleep than men, which can make the loss of that deep sleep due to OSA more difficult to overcome.

Sleep Disordered Breathing, estrogen, hormones and pregnancy

One specific form of Obstructive Sleep Apnea that plagues women in particular is Sleep Disordered Breathing. Like OSA, SDB is potentially life-threatening and contributes to snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome and can even lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and depression.

For women who are overweight, peri-menopausal, post-menopausal, have been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome or have an estrogen or progesterone imbalance or deficiency, the chances of developing SDB and OSA increase.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 78 percent of women report more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than other times in their lives. For more on high risk categories for women and their babies please view our educational information about pregnancy and women at high risk for sleep disorders.

Untreated Sleep Apnea Risks

If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, arrhythmia, heart failure and stroke. Obstructive sleep apnea puts patients at 25 percent higher risk for heart attack. Poor sleep, like that resulting from sleep apnea, is even associated with lower life expectancy. In fact, sleeping five hours or less per night can increase mortality risk by 15 percent.

If you think you could be one of the 50 to 70 million Americans suffering from a sleep disorder, we can help. Our trained sleep disorder dentists at Caffaratti Dental Group can diagnose and help treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Sleep Disordered Breathing.

Start your journey to better sleep by taking this short quiz to see if you may be suffering from OSA or SDB. Then, schedule your FREE consultation with our team by calling (775) 204-2532.