It is estimated that over 20 million American adults are currently living with sleep apnea–now that’s a lot! While the symptoms of sleep apnea tend to differ between men and women, it is still a condition that is associated with equally serious health consequences for everyone. June was Men’s Health Month and in May we had National Women’s Health Week, we should not ignore the more pressing matter of sleep apnea as a whole. Here is a look at snoring and sleep apnea in women and how sleep issues may differ based upon your gender:
The Differences in Men and Women
We mentioned it already, so what are the sleep differences in men and women? It is important to note the overarching distinctions in sleep patterns between men and women starting with hormonal differences. In part, hormonal differences appear to play a role in distinctions in sleep patterns, while anatomical differences also play a role in this area.
Women are more likely than men to experience insomnia, depression and daytime fatigue. Additionally, women benefit from more deep sleep than men do. And, because women’s circadian cycles typically run slightly shorter than men’s, women tend to fall asleep and wake up earlier. Women and men also deal with sleep deprivation differently.
However, one area that men and women don’t really differ from each other in is snoring. Both men and women snore, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Chronic snoring, unfortunately, can often be an indicator of sleep apnea. With varying causes of snoring, it is important to have your symptoms evaluated by a sleep specialist in order to determine whether you have sleep apnea or not. From there we can establish a proper treatment plan with oral appliance therapy.
Sleep Apnea Difference by Gender
Men often report symptoms such as snoring, waking up gasping for air or snorting, and many women report symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and depression. Some women might also experience shortness of breath and snoring, too, but in many cases, the telltale signs of sleep apnea in women is not as obvious as it is in men. Lastly, the fact that men are twice as likely than women to be diagnosed with sleep apnea may be partially attributed to how women describe their symptoms because it can often be mistaken for depression, hypertension, hypochondria or other disorders.
Individualized Diagnosis and Treatment
There are many factors that contribute to sleep apnea and treatment will vary based on the individual. It is important to note that women of all ages can suffer from this disorder. The best way to find out if you are at risk is to speak with a sleep physician.
If you think you might be suffering from sleep apnea, contact Dr. Sara at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in Scottsdale for more information. Remember, proper diagnosis and treatment planning can help to prevent further complications.