Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects up to 17% of men and 9% of women aged 50 to 70. It also affects 10 percent of men and 3 percent of women aged 30 to 49. Treating this sleep disorder could make a huge difference in the lives of many people. There is a problem, however: the American health system often makes it hard for people to get care, and the same is true in this case.
Obstructive sleep apnea is when the upper airway collapses during sleep, leading to periods of, well, not breathing. About 24 million Americans have sleep apnea and don’t know it, research suggests, and many who do know don’t get treatment.
The consequences can be severe. It’s a leading cause of vehicle accidents, as apnea-afflicted drivers fall asleep behind the wheel. Snoring and sleep apnea are on the same spectrum and are associated with Type 2 diabetes in adults. Treatment is associated with improvements in insulin resistance. Having sleep apnea, and not treating it, increases the risk of postoperative cardiovascular surgery complications.
Treating sleep apnea improves sleep duration and quality. People who sleep better are much happier and healthier in general. Reducing snoring also helps partners sleep better.
Know more about the treatment for sleep apnea over at The New York Times.
(Image Credit: Reed Saxon/ Associated Press)