Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which includes and is often referred to as sleep apnea, is very common among adult populations. The HypnoLaus study conducted in Switzerland in 2015 looked at polysomnography (sleep study) data from 2121 people over 40 years old, equally split between male and female and found the prevalence of moderate to severe SDB to be 23.4% in women and 49.7% in men. Similarly, the Sao Paulo Epidemiologic Sleep Study from 2007, looking at data from 1042 people between the ages of 20-80, found the prevalence of moderate to severe SDB to be 30.5% in women and 46.6% in men.
Similar studies conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s estimated the prevalence of SDB to be between 6.5% and 9% in women and between 17% and 31% in men. There are two main reasons for the increase in prevalence of the disorder since these studies 30 years ago;
(1) there has been a well-documented increase in world-wide obesity since 1990 which is known to increase the likelihood and severity of sleep apnoea and
(2) the monitoring equipment and scoring techniques have improved over the same time, meaning more people will be classed as having SDB than they would if tested with earlier technology and methods.
We now know that sleep-disordered breathing is very common among adult populations. We know it is more common and likely to be more severe in males than females, in people with obesity and in older demographics. Men under 60 are around three times more likely to have moderate to severe SDB than women of the same age but the effect of menopause closes the gap in older demographics, with men over 60 having around twice the prevalence of moderate to severe SDB compared to women of the same age.
SDB causes significant daytime tiredness that has been in the past and is often still viewed as being a normal part of aging, but this does not need to be the case. Treatment of SDB, whether through the use of a CPAP machine, MAS dental device, oropharyngeal exercises, surgery, sleeping with the head elevated or laser therapy can drastically improve alertness, concentration, mood and memory function on a day-to-day basis and decrease all-cause mortality through reducing the amount of stress the heart, brain and other organs have to put up with during sleep.
Severe sleep apnoea is often very easy to spot; loud snoring and large, frequent pauses in breathing are reasonably easy for bedpartners or other people nearby to pick up on, but sleep-disordered breathing does not always involve loud snoring or complete pauses in breathing. Respiratory events that shock the body awake, disrupting normal sleep cycles and increasing stress can be caused by as little as a 10% drop in airflow from the regular baseline breathing rhythm.
Remaining sleepy during the day and feeling the need to take regular naps despite adequate sleep time is another key indicator of likely sleep apnoea, but again not necessarily true in all instances. Mild to moderate SDB especially, but also some cases of severe SDB, can cause little to no noticeable daytime tiredness and it’s only after treatment that someone realizes they had an issue to begin with. Treating moderate SDB may not bring immediately noticeable results, but small changes can start to show themselves through improved mental, physical or emotional performance.
The only way to know for certain if you or someone in your family has sleep-disordered breathing and to find the most appropriate individual treatment plan is to have a level 1 or 2 sleep study conducted either in a hospital lab or in the comfort of your own home. A Home Sleep level 2 sleep study is the quickest, easiest way for people throughout Melbourne to have a high-quality sleep study and start the journey to a better, happier, healthier life. We come to you to set you up with our hospital-grade equipment in the evening and provide next-day results and can immediately set you up with or point you in the right direction of the treatment that best suits your needs, based both on your requirements and the data from the sleep study.