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National Sleep Foundation: Sleep Apnea More Prevalent Than Previously Thought

sleep apneaThe National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recently released its 2014 Sleep Health Index™, a year-end report that provides updates on sleep habits, problems, behaviors and beliefs among individuals in the United States.

There are many interesting takeaways from the Index, but the one that interests us the most concerns the prevalence of sleep apnea. According to the NSF, 11.6 percent of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a higher number than previously thought. Unfortunately, this indicates that many people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed.

As Max Hirshkowitz, Vice-Chair of the NSF Board, states in an NSF press release, “Epidemiological research estimates that approximately 25 percent of the adult population has the condition which suggests that another 13 percent of those with sleep apnea remained undiagnosed.”

Here’s a look at some of the other highlights from the Index:

  • Americans sleep an average of 7.6 hours per night. (The NSF recommends 7-9 hours per night for most adults.)
  • 35 percent of respondents said their sleep quality is “poor” or “only fair”
  • 40 percent of respondents said that they snore at least a few nights per week
  • 17 percent of respondents have been told by a doctor that they have a sleep disorder

The Index also revealed that poor overall health is linked with poor sleep quality. Of those surveyed, 67 percent who reported less than good sleep quality also reported “poor” or “only fair” overall health.

If you have poor sleep quality or if you experience symptoms such as snoring, there’s a chance that you may have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. Unfortunately, untreated sleep apnea can affect many different aspects of your health, so it’s in your best interest to approach this issue with your doctor.