Sleep Disorders Affect Men and Women Differently
Have you ever heard the common saying that men and women are simply wired differently?
If that’s indeed the case, when it comes to sleeping disorders, perhaps men and women experience them differently and are affected by them in distinct ways.
While the most common sleeping disorder—sleep apnea—doesn’t discriminate and men, women and children are all prone to developing the condition1, we also know that in New Zealand, ethnicity can be a contributing factor for developing sleep apnea. Research has shown Maori people more likely than non-Maori people to report sleep apnea symptoms2.
But could gender also play a role?
The answer is ‘yes’ – according to brand new research which has just been released.
The research from a new study3 published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests that when it comes to sleeping disorders, men and women are indeed impacted differently.
The finding prompts the question: If men and women are affected by sleeping disorders differently, are particular types of treatments more suited to men or women than others?
Men snore; women are fatigued
It’s known that the most common sleep disorder affecting both sexes is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but interestingly, men are more likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea than women4.
But it’s not all good news ladies – while men may be more likely to experience sleep apnea in comparison to women5, the new Australian study found that sleeping disorder symptoms aren’t too favorable for females when compared to how sleeping disorders affect men.
The study6, conducted by sleep researchers in Queensland, surveyed 744 patients who received sleep-related health care during a two year period, learning that women differed in reporting symptoms of sleep disorders.
While this study found that both men and women were likely to present with symptoms of sleep apnea at a similar age, the symptoms which presented and the effect on their lives were different. Women may be more likely than men to be affected by sleeping conditions that may impact their sleep at night and may cause excessive sleepiness during the day7.
Women may also have a higher degree of difficulty concentrating and remembering things due to sleepiness or tiredness. In contrast, male snoring was more likely than female snoring to force bed partners to sleep in different rooms.
Are women with sleeping disorders being misdiagnosed?
Here in lies a dilemma.
Because the symptoms women have been found to present are not exclusive to sleep apnea, they run the risk of having a sleeping disorder, but being misdiagnosed8.
In fact, sleep disorder sufferers who have sleep apnea but are misdiagnosed can be at risk of major health issues. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, depression and other undesired health complications – not to mention you won’t be enjoying a good night’s sleep9.
Think you or your partner may have sleep apnea?
If you are facing some issues around sleep and daytime tiredness, but aren't sure if you should take this further, it could be useful to do some simple exercises to find out if what you are experiencing could be the sign of something more serious.
Are you interested in getting a better night’s sleep?
There are so many reasons as to why it’s important to strive for a better night’s sleep. Not only will it help you feel better, but it could have major impacts on your overall health.
And both men and women might need some helpful advice on how to improve in this area. Busy lifestyles are increasingly seeing men and women suffering from sleeping disorders and not receiving the quality, restorative sleep required to function at their peak.
The sleep specialists at Eden Sleep have compiled helpful information to equip you with everything you need to know to get a better night’s sleep – and there’s even specific eBooks available to cater to both men and women.
Download a free copy of our eBook, ‘The Three Pillars of Health’ which explores the impact of nutrition, sleep and exercise on your overall health and wellbeing.
 New Zealand Medical Journal, 20 August 2010. Volume 123 Vol 1321 ISSN 1175 8716