You Don’t Have to Be Obese or Male to Have Sleep Apnoea

For those of you who are unaware: obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA, is a disorder where your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, pushing you out of deep sleep into the lighter kind. This can happen if the brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the breathing muscles or, more commonly, if the airway collapses or is blocked. When these blockages, or apnoeas occur, the brain is deprived of oxygen and this can result in numerous health problems if it is left untreated. The key symptoms are heavy snoring, and frequent regular gasping for breath whilst asleep.

beautiful young woman in white bed in the morning, does not want to wake up. Not enough sleep.

Wake up to the problems

These can include a wide range of cardiovascular problems including heart attacks and strokes, Type 2 Diabetes Type, cognitive disorders including earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and daytime tiredness that is dangerous when using or controlling machinery or equipment at work.

Up to 10% of UK women are thought to have this problem, most of them undiagnosed, and as many as 15% of Americans may be living with the same undiagnosed condition. Studies suggest that twice as many men have the condition, but this is probably because women are more likely not to recognise they have a problem and put tiredness down to other matters.

The Sleep Health Index found that a higher proportion of individuals were told by a doctor that they have sleep apnoea than some previous reports. The Index found that 10 % of the US population had been told by their physician that they have sleep apnoea but Epidemiological research estimates that approximately 25 % of the adult population has the condition which suggests that another 15 % of those with sleep apnoea still remain undiagnosed. In the UK only 4% of men and 2% of women have been diagnosed and it could be an equally sizeable problem.

Sleep disturbances are often more subtle in women, with symptoms that could have many causes. The problem usually arrives around menopause, for example, often misleading their doctors, but many suffer due to being very overweight. Up to 30 per cent of people with sleep apnea aren’t overweight however and 10 to 20 per cent don’t even snore according to some researchers. As well as snoring being the primary identifier, signs of OSA in women can include fatigue, dull morning headaches, low mood, irritability or insomnia.

If left neglected, OSA can become very severe and demands highly supervised medical treatment. The “gold standard” treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and a mask that pumps a flow of air into your nasal passages to keep the airway open. This is worn throughout the night as you sleep.

A major problem is that as many as 65% of people who own a CPAP are “non-compliant” — skipping nights, taking it off during the night, or stopping altogether. That’s the problem doubled, because untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, and car accidents from sleepiness at the wheel. Your body will feel the effects of oxygen deprivation even while you’re awake, some research suggests, and more so if you’re female.

Wake up to the solution

However, if it’s treated earlier, medical intervention may not be necessary, and the treatment is easy and inexpensive. A simple mouthpiece worn at night is all that is required. These are medically approved worldwide and both Doctors and Dentists recommend them.

Not only will the use of a mouthpiece, or oral appliance, control mild to moderate OSA, but can also reverse the problems previously caused if use is started early enough with the correct product. To make sure it’s medically approved is important.

Man or woman, if you think you may have untreated OSA, check out the details for suitable oral appliances and act quickly – your life may depend on it, and the benefits will soon be apparent.


John Redfern