Every morning, as alarm clocks blare in bedrooms across America, millions of adults will groggily reach for the snooze button, their bodies heavy with exhaustion. They’ve slept for seven, eight, or maybe even nine hours, but feel as tired as they did when they climbed into bed the night before. They’ll stumble into their day restless and irritated—most without even realizing it—while silently, the lack of quality sleep is wreaking havoc on their health.
The culprit? Sleep apnea, a disorder that affects an estimated 22 million Americans, the majority men—and most of them undiagnosed. What’s sometimes dismissed as a snoring habit is actually a serious ailment that can cause other health problems.
That’s why it’s important to take the time to learn about the risk factors and sleep apnea symptoms in men. The good news: It’s easily treatable and restful sleep is possible.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Men
Anyone can be affected by sleep apnea—women, teens, and even children—but men are two to three times more likely to have some form of sleep apnea than women. Most of those afflicted are middle-aged or older men who are overweight or obese.
A staggering nine out of 10 adults, however, remain undiagnosed, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Every night, they stop breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time, sometimes dozens of times an hour, hundreds of times a night. Loud snores are the result of their body laboring to pull in oxygen.
Gasping for breath or choking on air are telltale signs you have stopped breathing and are likely to experience sleep apnea. If you don’t experience these symptoms, you may not even realize you are suffering through these nighttime events. Here are a few signals you may have the disorder and need to get checked out by a doctor.
A History of Loud Snoring or Snorting
If you share a bed or room with someone, you will likely know if you snore or snort loudly by their requests to please “roll over!” or “be quiet!” Being a snorer, however, does not mean you have sleep apnea, and not all people with sleep apnea snore. If the person you share your bed or room with shares stories with you of how you stopped breathing in your sleep, only to start back up with a loud snort, you should get checked out.
You slept the recommended hours last night—seven to nine, according to most experts—but you’re dragging during the day. You yearn to curl up in a ball under your desk and take a nap, but instead you fill and refill your cup with coffee to get through the day. If you find yourself having trouble concentrating or remembering things and you feel exhausted, seemingly without reason, this may be another signal to get tested for sleep apnea.
Waking Up With a Dry Mouth, Sore Throat, or Headache
Since sleep apnea tends to make you breathe with an open mouth, your saliva may dry out, leaving you with the possibility of waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat. Morning headaches may be the result of dips in oxygen when you stopped breathing at night.
Sleep Apnea Can Affect Anyone
While the overweight male stereotype has often been the face of sleep apnea, no one is immune—including athletes and soldiers.
New York Mets player Dominic Smith recently talked about his struggle with sleep apnea to CBS New York. The disorder brought the first-round draft pick to his knees with exhaustion and headaches and he struggled with his performance. Once he was treated—he uses the common treatment of a CPAP machine to stay asleep, and stay breathing, at night—he got his energy back.
Reuter’s Health reported that between the years of 2003 and 2011, obstructive sleep apnea increased by over 600%. Soldiers who were deployed were twice as likely to develop this disorder than non-deployed soldiers. Insufficient sleep can contribute to other health problems in soldiers as well such as anxiety or PTSD.
Potential Health Risks of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is not just a case of being ‘’sleepy;” the effects of having untreated sleep apnea are critical. You may be at an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Men are also at an increased risk of having low testosterone, which causes its own set of problems.
People with sleep apnea are not just a risk to themselves. They are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in a motor vehicle accident. The most important thing to remember is that sleep apnea is treatable. You just need to take the first step and get an accurate diagnosis, which is where Lunella can help.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, an at-home sleep test can be an easy, convenient way to find out. Lunella allows consumers to take a sleep apnea test from the comfort of their own home and receive a proper data-driven diagnosis from a board-certified sleep physician and a prescription for treatment, if necessary.
This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.