It’s a misconception that snoring is a common problem that doesn’t require medical attention. Research shows that anyone who snores should see a doctor to rule out a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea (which studies now show may increase to cognitive decline). However, snoring may not be the only warning sign a person should look out for.
Sleep disorders are diagnosed more frequently in men than women. They are specifically diagnosed most often in men over the age of 40. Although symptoms present themselves at a similar age among both genders, the disorder takes longer to diagnose in women. This is because women present different symptoms.
According to research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, male snoring is more likely than female snoring to be the cause of couples sleeping in different rooms. A disruption like this is often the driving force behind a doctor’s appointment.
While women may snore, sleep apnea tends to present itself in other ways. Women are more likely to have symptoms of depression, daytime sleepiness, insomnia, difficulty concentrating and memory problems. While disruptive to daily life, these symptoms are easily attributed to other underlying causes, leading to delayed diagnosis.
In one study, researchers analyzed data from 4,800 participants. One group consisted of people diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the second group self-reported snoring, and the third was a control group with no sleep-related disorders or symptoms.
The study showed that the hearts of people with sleep apnea and snoring had enlarged walls in the left ventricle, which causes the heart to work harder.
Looking at the group of self-reported snorers, women had a more significant enlargement than men when compared to their counterparts in the control group.
The Importance of Early Diagnosis
When left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and stroke. Sleep apnea is also associated with type II diabetes and depression.
If sleep apnea and other disorders are diagnosed early, the resulting treatments (often a CPAP machine or nighttime dental device) can improve nighttime sleep and breathing. This leads to a decrease in severe side effects, such as heart problems.
It is especially important for women to recognize and acknowledge symptoms that could be caused by sleep disorders.