Sleep apnoea is much more common among men than women. But there is one thing that occurs among women that directly leads to sleep apnoea. By tackling this condition, women can reverse sleep apnoea.
Sleep Apnoea is defined as the cessation of airflow during sleep preventing air from entering the lungs caused by an obstruction. These periods of ‘stopping breathing’ only become clinically significant if the cessation lasts for more than 10 seconds each time and occur more than 5 times every hour. Sleep Apnoea only happens during sleep, as it is a lack of muscle tone in your upper airway that causes the airway to collapse.
During the day we have sufficient muscle tone to keep the airway open allowing for normal breathing. When you experience an episode of apnoea during sleep your brain will automatically wake you up, usually with a very loud snore or snort, in order to breathe again. People with Sleep Apnoea will experience these wakening episodes many times during the night and consequently feel very sleepy during the day: they have an airway that is more likely to collapse than normal.
Some women get through menopause without severe symptoms, but many others struggle with extreme hot flashes and night sweats. According to a new study in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, the latter group may be at serious risk of sleep apnoea.
They asked 1,691 women who visited the Women’s Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester to complete questionnaires to assess the severity of their sleep apnoea and their menopause symptoms. Because it is not ideal to test sleep apnoea via a questionnaire, women were asked about their sleep quality, sleep duration, daytime sleepiness, weight, blood pressure, age, and other factors that indicate that they are at risk of sleep apnoea.
The researchers then ranked the women according to the likelihood that they had sleep apnoea. Those who were the most likely to have sleep apnoea were also the ones suffering from the worst hot flashes. The good news is that the symptoms of menopause can be drastically improved and most often completely avoided by making simple lifestyle changes.