Questions And Answers About Women And Sleep Apnea

Women and Sleep Apnea

Many people may have experienced sleep apnea at some point in their life time. This is a condition where one experiences one or more pauses in breathing or have shallow breaths while asleep. When such conditions occur, you are likely to move out of a deep sleep into a light sleep, hence the lack of better sleep. For most women, unlike men, they face a great challenge when it comes to the diagnosis with sleep apnea. Here are some facts and possible answers about women and sleep apnea:

For most women, unlike men, they face a great challenge when it comes to the diagnosis with sleep apnea. Here are some facts and possible answers about women and sleep apnea:

Should Women With Sleep Apnea Be Diagnosed As Men With The Same Condition?


  1. Women with sleep apnea aren’t diagnosed as the men. By the recent statistics from the sleep centers, about 45% of the sleep study referrals are made up by the women. Besides this, most of the sleep studies are also conducted to screen for the sleep apnea.
  2. The women with sleep apnea are likely to be diagnosed as the men with sleep apnea. This is because the ratio of men to women from the early studies shows a ratio of about 8 men to 1 woman with the obstructive sleep apnea. However, based on the total population, the ratio lies closer to 3 men to a woman with the condition.

What Is The Reason Behind Fewer Women Getting Diagnosed With Sleep Apnea?


  1. This may be due to the fact the most women report to the clinicians with non-specific symptoms like depression, sleepiness, insomnia, restless legs and lack of energy. These are not specific symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Hence the women will end up not being referred for further evaluation.
  2. The main reason behind this is an informed opinion that many doctors associate sleep apnea with. Many physicians believe that only obese or middle-aged and overweight male suffer from sleep apnea. With this in mind, they end up not diagnosing women who may also suffer from the same condition.
  3. Most of the men always experience the symptoms of sleep apnea while women will experience different conditions. For example, women will experience a morning headache, sleeplessness, and fatigue, which are not experienced by men. This is the reason why most clinicians end up not diagnosing the women for sleep apnea.
  4. Besides most physicians not having a higher index of suspension for this condition in women as in men, the women with sleep apnea always experience more subtle breathing disturbances. Due to this, it may be tricky to diagnose them as they are more likely to have the REM-related apneas.

Is The Relationship Between Hypertension And OSA Differ Between Men And Women?


  1. There isn’t much difference in men and women as the prevalence of hypertension ranges from about 30-70% in people with OSA. However, when we consider the Body Mass Index, there is a slight of gender difference that shows up. The Men with Obstructive Sleep Apnea have got twice fold higher risks of hypertension than the women with the same condition.

Is There Any Difference Between Men And Women In The Relationship Between OSA And Diabetes?


  1. When it comes to OSA and diabetes, the women are known to have a higher mortality despite having a lower Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) than the men.
  2. There is a great risk of anyone suffering from OSA to have a higher risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes. However, despite being an increased risk for both diabetes in both men and women, there isn’t a gender disparity in this relationship.

What Are The Signs, Diseases, And Symptoms That Should Prompt A Woman Or The Doctor To Consider That She Might Suffer From OSA?


  1. These may include the history of snoring, obesity, fatigue, a sense of being overwhelmed and a dry mouth on waking up.
  2. Chronic fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, polycystic ovary syndrome, women with the endocrine disorder, lack of sleep and finding it hard to maintain sleep are some of the conditions that may show the signs of OSA.
  3. The common symptoms of the OSA are evident in men, and for the women, they are likely to experience weight gain, a dry throat, hypertension and waking to gasp for a breath.
  4. Despite getting adequate sleep at night, most women are likely to experience the lack of energy, daytime fatigue, and excessive sleepiness. Besides this, they may also experience a bit of a headache when they first wake up.

Note: Most women undergo diagnosis in error off with conditions instead of sleep apnea;

  • Fatigue from overwork
  • Anemia
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Hypochondria
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Menopausal changes.

From the above questions and answers about women and sleep apnea, you may realize that you too have been diagnosed in error rather than sleep apnea. This requires immediate action and just like men; the physicians should have an informed opinion of OSA without considering the difference in male and female.

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