Sleep Disorders

31 August 2018

Risk factors for sleep apnoea

Risk factors for sleep apnoea include overweight and collar size.

Studies indicate that 4-5% of women and 8-10% of men over 50 years of age suffer from sleep apnoea. Overweight people, and those with facial deformities that could obstruct their airways, are at greater risk.

An important risk factor is the size of your collar. In a man, if you snore and your collar is greater than 43cm, you probably have obstructive sleep apnoea. In a woman, the figure is 40cm.

If you’re a snorer, this alone gives you a 50% risk of having obstructive sleep apnoea.

If, in addition, you’re tired despite having what appears to be adequate hours in bed, you can confidently bet that you have it.

Reviewed by Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, specialist neuropsychiatrist in sleep disorders at The London Sleep Centre and The Constantia Sleep Centre. FRCPsych. April 2018.


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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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