When most people think of loud snorers, an image of a man typically comes to mind. And there is evidence to back this up: men are more frequently diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition often characterized by loud, persistent snoring, than women. But as it turns out, the reason that men are more frequently diagnosed with this condition is complicated. Why is the science and perception of sleep apnea and snoring in women so out of sync? And how can women find out if they have this condition and get the treatment they need?
Study Finds That Women Underreport Snoring
According to the National Sleep Foundation, snoring affects 90 million people among all ages and genders, with 37 million experiencing snoring on a regular basis. But one recent study indicated that that number may actually be even higher, particularly because women aren’t accurately reporting their snoring. In the study, individuals referred for evaluation due to a suspected sleep disorder were given a questionnaire to rate the severity of their snoring. Results showed that while snoring intensity, or loudness, did not differ by gender, women significantly underreported the loudness of their snoring: 40% of women reported that they had severe or very severe snoring, but in actuality, 49% did.
And women underreported other aspects of their snoring, as well. Among the women in the study, 88% snored, but only 72% reported that they did so. In contrast, objective snoring and self-reported snoring were nearly identical in men, at 92.6% versus 93.1%.
The authors of the study described the social stigma surrounding snoring in women, which is the likely culprit of the underreporting. Unfortunately, the implications of this stigma mean that women may not reliably answer questions about snoring in a clinical analysis, which likely contributes to the underdiagnosis of sleep apnea in women.
When Is It Time to Go to a Doctor?
Are you a woman affected by snoring? Check out this list of common sleep apnea symptoms, and see if you experience any of the following:
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat in the morning
- Waking up with a gasping or choking sound at night
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain at night
- Disrupting partner’s sleep
If you regularly experience any of these symptoms in combination with snoring, you may have sleep apnea, which should be diagnosed by a medical professional. You have only to gain from getting treatment for sleep apnea — just a few of the benefits include more energy and better concentration, not to mention a decreased risk for a number of serious health concerns including diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
Sleep apnea is typically treated with a CPAP or an oral appliance, which looks similar to a mouthguard or retainer and is generally described by patients as more comfortable and tolerable than a CPAP. If you’re interested and want to learn more about treatment, contact us today or schedule a free consultation with Sleep Better Georgia to speak with someone who can help you find the answers and treatment you need.