This June is the 24th annual Men’s Health Month, a month dedicated to creating awareness about the health and well-being of both men and boys. One area of men’s health that doesn’t get much attention, except in sitcoms, is snoring. Although it may just seem like an annoying habit, it can actually be a sign of a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.
It seems like every sitcom about married life features a snoring man and an exasperated woman trying to get some sleep over all the noise. But how true is this stereotype that men are the ones who snore?
It’s actually pretty accurate! According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, an estimated 40 percent of adult men in the United States snore, while only 24 percent of adult women snore on a regular basis. So, men aren’t the only ones who snore, but they certainly are more likely to snore than women. Let’s find out why.
When you picture the typical sleep apnea patient, what comes to mind? For many, it's an image of an overweight, middle-aged man snoring through the night. This is a common conception not only with the general population, but also with doctors, according to Dr. Amy Norman, DDS, a dentist in Everett, Washington, who treats many sleep apnea patients in her practice.
"For years, men have been the poster children of sorts for sleep apnea," she said. "There are many reasons for this. Women are affected differently by sleep apnea in many cases and don’t always snore. They are often misdiagnosed since their symptoms don’t always align with a doctor’s idea of what a typical sleep apnea patient looks like."
A new study from Washington University in St. Louis has found a link between disrupted sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. The study, conducted in partnership with Stanford University and Radbound University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and published in the medical journal Brain, shows that continued poor sleep during middle age could increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease as the patient ages.
Obstructive sleep apnea afflicts 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Patients with the disorder experience brief, but repeated, interruptions of their sleep, which occur as a result of the patient’s airway becoming blocked. While the majority of sufferers are adults, the American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 4 percent of children suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, and the majority of these young patients goes undiagnosed. That is, at least until they visit a dentist.