Is Sleep Apnea More Common in Men?

November 5, 2022
Tired man sitting at desk, may have sleep apnea in Vero Beach

Obstructive sleep apnea in Vero Beach is a disorder that can afflict anyone. Whether you are young or old, athletic or sedentary, male or female, you are not impervious to it. However, it does tend to occur more frequently in certain groups. In fact, men — those assigned male at birth — are especially at risk. This blog post discusses some statistics on sleep apnea and why it appears to occur more frequently in males.

OSA in Men and Women: What the Research Shows

According to data from the Cleveland Clinic, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs in about 25% of men, while only 10% of women have this condition. As people age, however, the statistics change. In fact, the occurrence of sleep apnea among men and women tends to be roughly the same in individuals over 50 years old.

Why Are Men More Susceptible?

The heightened occurrence of OSA in men is likely due to body weight distribution. Men under 50 are more likely to carry their weight around their belly and neck than women. Extra fat in these areas can interfere with proper airway function, increasing the risk of nighttime breathing problems.

As women age and go through menopause, the weight distribution on their body may change. They are also likely to lose some muscle tone in their throat. These factors can explain why older men and women have roughly the same rate of obstructive sleep apnea.

Of course, it must be noted that sleep apnea might be underdiagnosed in women. Due to embarrassment over snoring, they may hesitate to seek appropriate testing.

How to Get Better Sleep

Regardless of your gender, it is important that do all you can to sleep well. Untreated OSA is associated with a heightened risk of many health problems, including depression, cardiovascular disease, and more. Here are a few common treatment options for OSA:

  • CPAP machine. This device forces pressurized air into the throat in order to prevent obstructions that interfere with breathing. Unfortunately, many patients find it challenging to comply with CPAP therapy.
  • Oral appliance therapy. An oral sleep appliance is a small device that slightly repositions the jaw at night, thereby allowing for easier breathing. It is more convenient and comfortable than a CPAP machine, according to many patients.
  • Lifestyle changes. Sleeping on your side, cutting back on alcohol, and losing weight can all reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Such lifestyle changes are most effective when used in conjunction with professional treatment.

Sleep is a precious resource! Whether you are a man or a woman, you should be alert for signs of a sleep disorder and seek treatment in a timely manner.

Meet the Sleep Apnea Expert

Dr. Kenneth Mogell is double board-certified in dental sleep medicine. He specializes in providing oral appliance therapy for men and women at three convenient locations throughout Florida’s central and southern beach area. To learn more about how he and our team may be able to help you enjoy higher-quality sleep, contact our Vero Beach office at 772-882-6800.