As the clocks turned back and British Summer Time (BST) came to an end, millions across the UK enjoyed the benefit of an extra hour in bed. But for many women, this extra hour provided little relief, with a growing number now being diagnosed with the sleep disorder OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea).
“A good night’s sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing. However, increasing rates of obstructive sleep apnoea amongst women are posing a significant threat to their quality of sleep, and potentially putting them at risk of serious health issues, including heart disease, stroke, depression and diabetes,” commented Judy Harris of the British Lung Foundation, which is campaigning for better awareness, diagnosis and treatment of people affected by OSA.
Traditionally viewed as a man’s disease, a recent study has suggested that among women aged 20-44, up to one quarter now have sleep apnoea, a figure which rises to more than half in women aged between 45 and 54, and 75 per cent in women aged between 55 and 70.
Whilst women have often been viewed as the ‘gatekeepers’ to their families’ health, and are often the first to recognise the signs and symptoms of sleep disorders in their husbands or bed-partners, increasingly they’re experiencing this debilitating disease for themselves, with symptoms including loud snoring, day time tiredness, poor concentration, headaches, depression and anxiety.”
With mounting evidence of sleep apnoea’s links to serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and dementia, it’s vital that we move past the stereotypes that label OSA a ‘man’s disease’ and seek to raise awareness of this potentially deadly disease amongst women in the UK.