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Impact of sleep problems and low awareness of sleep apnoea revealed by ‘Reclaim Your Sleep’ survey

Almost half of British women say they are not getting enough sleep and don't feel well-rested when they wake up (43% and 48%) . According to the findings from a survey of over 4,100 UK adults, supported by the Sleep Apnoea Trust Association (SATA) and conducted by YouGov for ResMed Ltd, women are more likely than men to:

• Have trouble sleeping (46% versus 36%)
• Wake up during the night and not be able to get back to sleep (36% versus 23%)
• Become irritable during the day because of their sleep problems (60% versus 47%*)
• Feel less confidence in their appearance as a result of a bad night’s sleep (33% versus 20%*)

Despite the extent of their sleep problems, only a minority of women visit their GP about sleep issues such as difficulty sleeping (25%) and snoring (6%)1.These might be symptoms of a sleep disorder called sleep apnoea which if left untreated could lead to other more serious health problems such as stroke and cardiovascular disease .

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a debilitating condition affecting around 1.5 million adults in the UK . Pregnancy and the menopause can increase a woman’s risk of having sleep apnoea, yet the majority of women in the UK are unaware of this. The symptoms present differently in women than men and include: softer snoring, lower report of sleepiness, insomnia, restless legs, fatigue/day-time sleepiness, depression, headaches and muscle pain . The low level of awareness of the symptoms, risk factors and impact of untreated sleep apnoea also revealed in the survey could be hindering effective diagnosis amongst this high risk group.

Professor John Stradling, a sleep expert from Oxford University says, “Often women think that feeling exhausted is just part of modern life when in fact it could be something more serious. Many are not aware that they may have sleep apnoea meaning that they are missing out on the medical advice or treatment that they need. Remaining untreated leaves women at risk of reduced quality of life and serious health conditions, so it is important that they speak to their GP about any sleep problems that they have – the sooner their sleep issues are addressed by a sleep expert, the better.”

Today’s findings also reveal the impact of frequent sleep problems and how these affect both genders differently. The impact of sleep deprivation on appearance is much more prominent in women than men with women* admitting that sleeping problems have caused them to put on weight (31%) and made their skin look less healthy (33%).

Bill Johnston, Chairman, from the Sleep Apnoea Trust Association says, “It is easy to think that as the nights get longer, being tired is just part of the new season – for many it is, but for others, sleep issues could be a sign of sleep apnoea. The overall lack of awareness around sleep apnoea symptoms and its impact on a person’s health may mean that many are suffering in silence so it is important that we work with healthcare professionals to uncover this missing group and help minimise the impact of sleep problems on their lives. Women also need to help their doctor understand how they sleep to avoid misdiagnosis. Discussing their sleep quality, and any difficulties sleeping (such as insomnia, frequent awakenings, snoring and sleepiness or tiredness during the day), will really help.”

Treating OSA would not only save the National Health Service (NHS) millions of pounds but could also help hundreds of thousands women all around the UK reclaim their sleep and improve their overall health and quality of life.

The ‘Reclaim Your Sleep’ survey results coincide with a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of sleep apnoea amongst women. Women can visit http://reclaimyoursleep.resmed.com/en-gb.html to find out more about sleep and dealing with sleep problems.

*Of those that have trouble sleeping

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Rita Martins
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Amber Tovey
T: 020 7089 6108

About Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a serious condition where the muscles in the throat relax during sleep, causing the sufferer to temporarily stop breathing. Women with untreated OSA are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases than women without OSA3, and severe OSA has been associated with cardiovascular death in women.

The menopause is an independent risk factor for the development of OSA, which may be due to changes in the hormones (e.g. oestrogen and progesterone), redistribution of body fat, and loss of muscle tone which occurs with older age . Studies have shown that the prevalence of OSA in women triples with menopause6. Pregnancy may increase the risk of sleep apnoea due to displacement of the diaphragm, increased neck circumference, and reduced nasal patency.

About the ‘Reclaim Your Sleep’ Survey
The survey was funded by ResMed Ltd and conducted by YouGov in the UK amongst 4,199 members of the general public – 2,042 men and 2,157 women. An online questionnaire was completed from 10th – 13th September 2015. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About The Sleep Apnoea Trust Association (SATA)
The Sleep Apnoea Trust Association (SATA) work to improve the lives of sleep apnoea patients, their partners and their families. Managed by volunteers, SATA is regarded as the leading UK charity working in the field of sleep apnoea.

About ResMed

The global team at ResMed (NYSE:RMD) is united in the commitment to change millions of lives with every breath. With more than 4,000 employees and a presence in over 100 countries, the company has been pioneering new and innovative devices and treatments for sleep-disordered breathing, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other chronic diseases for more than 25 years. ResMed's world-leading products and innovative solutions improve the quality of life for millions of patients worldwide, reduce the impact of chronic disease, and save healthcare costs. For more information about ResMed and its businesses, visit www.resmed.com or follow @resmed on Twitter.

References

1.‘Reclaim your Sleep’ general public survey, conducted by YouGov, online from 10th – 13th September 2015
2.Gharibeh T. and Mehra R. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: natural history, diagnosis, and emerging treatment options. Nat Sci Sleep 2010;2:233-255
3.Greenberg-Dotan S. et al. Gender differences in morbidity and health care utilization among adult obstructive sleep apnoea patients. Sleep 2007;30:1173–80
4.Rejon-Parrilla JC., Garau M., and Sussex J., Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Health Economics Report. British Lung Foundation. September 2014
5.Chakradhar V and Saiprakash BV. Sleep-disordered breathing during pregnancy. J Am Board Fam Med 2009; 22:158–168
6.Pien GW and Veasey SC. Obstructive sleep apnea and menopause. Sleep disorders in women: A guide to practical management: second edition, Current Clinical Neurology 2013
7.Valipour A., et al. Gender-related differences in symptoms of patients with suspected breathing disorders in sleep: a clinical population study using the sleep disorders questionnaire. Sleep 2007;30(3):312–9
8.Campos-Rodriguez F. et al. Cardiovascular mortality in women with OSA with or without CPAP treatment- A cohort study. Ann Intern Med 2012;156:115–22
9.Eichling PS and Sachni J. Menopause related sleep disorders. J Clin Sleep Med 2005;1(3):291–300

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