The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project is urging anyone with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea to pledge to stop the snore and talk to a doctor about sleep apnea. The project is a collaboration launched by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Sleep Research Society (SRS).
“Research shows that the number of sleep apnea sufferers continues to increase—the disease afflicts at least 25 million American adults, and most of them remain untreated, increasing their risk of cardiac disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity,” says Dr Timothy Morgenthaler, AASM president and a national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep Project, in a release. “Fortunately, many of the damaging effects of sleep apnea can be stopped, and even reversed, through diagnosis and treatment by a board-certified sleep specialist.”
The Healthy Sleep Project provided these five warning signs for sleep apnea via a press release:
Snoring. Besides being a nuisance to your bed partner or roommate, loud and frequent snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. While not everyone who snores has this sleep illness, snoring is a warning sign that should be taken seriously.
Choking or gasping during sleep. When snoring is paired with choking, gasping, or silent breathing pauses during sleep, it’s a strong indicator of sleep apnea.
Fatigue or daytime sleepiness. “Sleep apnea can leave you waking in the morning feeling tired, even after a full night’s sleep,” says Morgenthaler. “Excessive daytime sleepiness often occurs because sleep apnea causes numerous arousals throughout the night, and your body isn’t getting the quality sleep it needs.”
Obesity. An adult with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher is considered to be obese, and the risk of sleep apnea increases with the amount of excess body weight.
High blood pressure. A staggering 67 million Americans have high blood pressure, which is about one in every three adults. Between 30% and 40% of adults with high blood pressure also have sleep apnea, and getting treatment for sleep apnea is a proven means of decreasing blood pressure.
“A common misconception is that sleep apnea only affects older, overweight men,” says Morgenthaler. “This widely held assumption is wrong: anyone can have sleep apnea, regardless of gender, age, or body type—even if you’re not overweight.”
“Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic disease that has a negative impact on the health and well-being of millions of people in the US,” says Janet B. Croft, PhD, senior chronic disease epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Population Health. “It is important to discuss the warning signs for sleep apnea with your doctor to determine if you are at risk.”