Sleep Apnea Statistics

How Accurate are Sleep Apnea Statistics?

The research and collection of data for sleep apnea statistics are changing and improving all the time.

In a few years from now, we should have a more accurate picture of sleep apnea and sleep disorders from improved and advanced data sources.

According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, approximately 38,000 deaths occur each year relate to cardiovascular problems that in one way or another are connected to sleep apnea.

Number of people affected by Sleep Apnea (OSA)

  • 25 million US adults, as indicated in a report by the American Sleep Association (ASA)
  • 25 million or 40% of the UK population, as reported in NHS Choices.
  • 26% of the population of commercial drivers in the UK, according to a report in
  • 100 million people around the world are believed to have OSA, according to the World Health Organisation’s report on Chronic Respiratory Diseases. 

Number of people affected by OSA by gender

  • 9-21% of the population of middle-aged women in the US have OSA
  • 24-31% of the population of middle-aged men in the US have OSA
  • More than 250,000 of the population in the UK have severe OSA, according to a report in the British Lung Foundation.

This would indicate that men are at a higher risk of OSA than women. Or is this because more men have been part of the data collection?

Men and Sleep Apnea

Men are at risk of sleep disorders because of the location of fat when weight is gained as they age. It deposits around the neck and abdomen weighing down the airway and lungs.

28% of men over 65 have sleep apnea according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Men with severe sleep apnea are three times more likely to have a stroke than men without sleep apnea.

Women and Sleep Apnea

Women are at risk, especially after the age of 50 and as they enter into the menopause.

10% of post-menopausal women have sleep apnea. Oestrogen and progesterone, the two hormones that seem to protect women from sleep disordered breathing, cease to be produced as they age. 

24% of women over the age of 65 have sleep apnea according to the National Sleep Foundation.

The National Institute of Health estimates that until recently, 75% of the research on sleep was conducted on men, looking at insomnia, poor sleep and sleep breathing disorders such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

These conditions are now being identified in women more and more as the research progresses. 

Sleep Apnea Statistics in Children

Between 1 and 4% of children suffer from sleep disorders and between 3 and 12% of children are habitual snorers according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Growth retardation occurs in 7% of infants born to mothers who snored while pregnant according to Franklin et al (2000).

Children with Sleep Breathing Disorders require 226% more health care than children without Sleep Breathing Disorders according to Reuveni et al (2002).

The IQ score, attention span and memory skills in children with Sleep Breathing Disorders are lower compared to children with Sleep Breathing Disorders according to Kennedy et al (2004).

25% of children with ADHD have symptoms of OSA.

Behaviour problems, learning difficulties, retarded growth, bed wetting, sleep walking and other metabolic and hormonal problems can be a consequence of OSA or chronic fragmented sleep.

Recent studies showed a close association between childhood obesity and pediatric sleep disorders.

Find out more about Sleep Apnea in Children, how they are affected and treated. 

Number of people affected by different levels of OSA

  • 1 out of 5 adults are likely to have mild OSA based on OSA Stats in 2016
  • 1 out of 15 adults have moderate to severe OSA
  • 75% of those with severe OSA cases are undiagnosed
  • 5% or over 2.5 million people of the UK adult population is believed to have undiagnosed OSA 

Risk factors for sleep apnea based on ResMed’s Sleep Apnea Facts and Figures

  • Patients with hypertension have sleep apnea, between 30-83% 
  • Patients with mild or severe OSA have hypertension at 43% to 69%, respectively
  • Stroke patients, 65% of them to be exact, have sleep-disordered breathing
  • Stroke patients undergoing rehabilitation therapy, up to 70% of them, have moderate sleep apnea
  • Obesity in adults or a BMI >30 is attributable to sleeping disorder 

Effects of sleep disorder on young adults

  • Over 23% of them will have difficulty focusing on things
  • Over 18% of them tend to be forgetful
  • Over 11% of them will have trouble driving or taking public transportation
  • Less than 9% of them will find it challenging to work, paid or otherwise

It could be argued that this is not a sleep apnea statistic but more a reflection on young people and their lifestyle today who don't necessarily have sleep apnea or a sleep disorder but more a lack of sleep.

It is up to the reader to decide how to interpret the sleep apnea statistics.

Effects of treatment following diagnosis of OSA

  • Risk of heart disease is reduced by 40%, according to the
  • Risk of stroke is reduced by 75%, according to a report in
  • Risk of blood pressure is reduced

Sleep apnea statistics are only useful when an accurate sample is used. Many research studies have been carried out with the majority of male participants which does not give an accurate overall picture.

Wishing you vibrant health!

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