Sleep Apnea Statistics You Might Not Have Known

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
September 15, 2022
min read

We’re expected to stay awake for extended hours in our fast-paced world. Unfortunately, not all of us can handle the fatigue, and many have the added challenge of dealing with sleep apnea.

While there are multiple types of sleep apnea, the outcome is all the same. You’ll have a hard time breathing during sleep and might even take random naps during the day, leading to health problems and tragic accidents.

The key to battling sleep apnea is by knowing the triggers, trends, and solutions. Go through this list of sleep apnea statistics to see how you can increase your hours of sleep and improve the overall quality of your rest.

What statistics are on this list?

  • Sleep apnea statistics
  • Sleep apnea and age statistics
  • Sleep apnea risk statistics
  • Sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment

Sleep Apnea Statistics

We’ve combed through multiple research points and compiled the most crucial sleep apnea statistics to show you the widespread presence and severity of sleep apnea:

  • According to research published in PubMed and MSD Manuals, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea and affects 2-9% of adults in the United States. Unfortunately, many people with sleep apnea don’t go to the doctor.
  • In terms of weight, OSA is 7 times more common among the obese, and the majority of sleep apnea patients are overweight persons. The heightened risk is due to the reduced positive airway pressure, where research found that a mere 10% increase in weight can result in a sixfold surge in OSA risk.
  • In terms of sex, OSA affects more men than women, where the prevalence is 4 times greater. Severe sleep apnea problems also heighten the risk of death among middle-aged men.
  • In terms of race, the chances of having OSA are 4-6 times higher in African American children than in their white counterparts. Even in adults younger than 26 years old, African Americans are 88% more likely to experience OSA than Caucasians.
  • The increased risk may be due to African Americans experiencing more sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). Based on a sleep study, the risk for African Americans to have severe OSA is twice as high compared to Caucasians, regardless of age, sex, and body mass index (BMI).

Sleep Apnea and Age Statistics

While it may come as a surprise, the chances of having sleep apnea increase the older you get, regardless of other key contributors like sex and weight. You can see this from the following sleep apnea statistics:

  • A little over a quarter (26%) of adults aged 30 to 70 and 2-3% of children suffer from sleep apnea. Those below the age of 70 have an increased risk of early death.
  • Aside from loud snoring, the risk of sleep apnea increases with age, continuing to do so even beyond 60 years old. While it’s more recurrent among older adults, OSA can occur at any age.
  • Central sleep apnea, which occurs due to failure of the brain to send signals to the throat muscles, affects 0.9% of all adults above the age of 40 and is also more prevalent in men than women.
  • A study reported that sleep apnea appears in half (50%) of females aged 20 to 70 years old. It is a common occurrence in females, even if it’s often classified as a primarily male disorder.

Sleep Apnea Risk Statistics

Beyond providing insufficient rest during the night, sleep apnea also increases the risk of experiencing health complications and dangerous accidents. Prevalent sleep disorders also plague specific industries like logistics and delivery services. Consider the following statistics:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the leading medical cause of excessive wake-time or daytime sleepiness. When untreated, it can affect a person’s judgment, attention, and reaction time. These may lead to automobile crashes, loss of employment, and sexual dysfunction, among other issues.
  • Aside from daytime sleepiness and other consequences related to sleep problems, health issues such as hypertension, stroke, heart disease, heightened blood pressure, and depression are also associated with sleep apnea.
  • Commercial drivers constantly face an increased risk of sleep apnea. In fact, a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revealed that nearly one-third of commercial drivers have sleep apnea, although in varying degrees.
  • Untreated sleep apnea increases the driver’s risk of getting into vehicle accidents due to fatigue, diminished reaction time, and lack of alertness. This can apply to regular driving and similar activities that require great attention.

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment Statistics

While many sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed and untreated, there are simple solutions to help you handle your sleep-related disorder. We strongly suggest that you consult with a doctor and try these at-home sleep apnea treatment methods:

  • Given that sleep apnea gets worse with excess body weight, ensure that you keep your BMI within a healthy level. You can do so by eating a good diet and having regular exercise.
  • People with sleep apnea may find that sleeping on their side helps a lot. You can develop this habit with positional therapy and sleeping on a mattress and pillow that support your body well.
  • There are studies that show the link between sleep apnea and cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption. Minimizing these practices will reduce the risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other medical conditions.

Additional content you may enjoy:

- General sleep statistics

- Sleep deprivation statistics

- Obesity and sleep statistics

The Solution To Better Sleep

Sleep apnea is unfortunately still prevalent in the modern day. One crucial way to improve your rest and prevent sleep disorders is by having a mattress that’s firm enough to support your frame yet soft enough to minimize tension and pressure. 

Purple has proprietary solutions to deal with sleep apnea and give you the rest you deserve, one hour of sleep at a time. Start your journey to better sleep by browsing through our collection of mattresses, pillows, and seat cushions