Noisy sleepers can be a nuisance for anyone sharing the bed. But snoring might also be a sign of a serious medical disorder that affects more than one in 10 people in the U.S. ― and might be costing Americans billions every year.
A new analysis from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) suggests that obstructive sleep apnea affects approximately 29.4 million Americans, but 80 percent of those individuals don’t know.
For people with sleep apnea, the muscles in the airway do not work properly, so you actually stop breathing for very short periods of time when you’re sleeping, Jennifer Caudle, a New Jersey-based family medicine doctor, explains in this CBS News video.
“Often they don’t even know about it,” Caudle says.
And not realizing you have the condition can be a big problem down the line, Caudle says.
Stopping breathing for several seconds multiple times every night causes snoring, which can seriously disrupt your own (and your partner’s!) sleep and cause daytime fatigue and sleepiness, she explains. And if untreated sleep apnea can also increase risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes later on.
“It’s more than just feeling sleepy.”- Jennifer Caudle, a New Jersey-based family medicine doctor
“It’s more than just feeling sleepy,” Caudle says. And it can also be expensive.
The new AASM analysis also found that undiagnosed sleep apnea costs the U.S. approximately $149.6 billion. That figure includes treatment for the disorder ― and medical costs associated with the long-term health consequences of untreated sleep apnea, the costs of lost productivity, and motor vehicle accidents and workplace accidents due to the problem going undiagnosed.
For example, research shows that the excessive daytime sleepiness caused by untreated sleep apnea makes truck drivers up to five times more likely to crash on the road compared with drivers without the condition.
Watch the video to learn more about sleep apnea, how it’s diagnosed and how it can be treated.
And consider asking your doctors about getting tested if you snore or you tend to be tired throughout the day even if you’re getting the seven to nine hours of sleep recommended for adults.
Sarah DiGiulio is The Huffington Post’s sleep reporter. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.