Sleep apnea also affects women

Sleep apnea is generally perceived as a disorder that affects men. It is mainly true before menopause.

Sleep apnea can affect everyone regardless of their gender. However, men are more commonly affected by sleep apnea than women. Before the age of 60, around 66% of sleep apnea sufferers are men(1). In Canada for example, sleep apnea affects twice as many men than women(2). Race and ethnicity can also impact the risk of developing sleep apnea: which is observed more frequently among men than among women, particularly African-American and Hispanic men(3).

Generally speaking, one of the possible explanations for these figures is that men are more likely to have a bigger neck size and weigh more than women, as suggested in the New York Times(4).

What about after menopause?

With menopause impacts such as hormone changes, weight gain and neck enlargement, there are as many female as men sufferers after 60(1). It is because the number of women affected by sleep apnea increases dramatically after that specific period of time. After turning 65(5), almost as many women as men (24% of total women) suffer from sleep apnea (28% of total men).

Whether you are a man or a woman, the best thing to do is to remain cautious, screen yourself and get diagnosed by a doctor if you experience any potential sleep apnea symptoms: tiredness in the morning, daytime sleepiness, loud snore, pauses in breathing during the night…