Countless Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that causes sufferers to stop breathing numerous times throughout the night. Most people suffering from the condition must cope with frequent waking, daytime fatigue and snoring. Now, a recent study out of Brazil suggests these symptoms may worsen when the mercury drops.
More Severe During the Winter
According to research conducted at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, weather changes can have a very real impact on the way patients experience sleep apnea. Over the course of a decade, researchers tested 7,500 patients for at least one night to see how many times each stopped breathing. Ultimately, they found that subjects who were tested during the coldest months of the year experienced more nighttime disturbances (18) than those who were tested during the warmer months (15).
Additionally, the study found that, while only 28 percent of subjects were found to have severe sleep apnea during the warm season, 34 percent suffered from severe sleep apnea during the colder parts of the year.
Although researchers weren’t able to determine why cold weather might make the sleep disorder worse, they theorized that wood burning might irritate the condition, as might heating units which can dry the air and dehydrate the sinuses.
Regardless of the season, sleep apnea remains a serious condition that can drastically reduce the quality of a sufferer’s life. The condition has also been linked to numerous health problems, including obesity and dementia. Normally, people find 100 percent relief when they receive CPAP treatments; however, many people suffer unknowingly with the sleep disorder for years before they get help.
In the end, only a sleep physician can diagnose a patient with sleep apnea. Typically, patients are expected to sleep overnight at a sleep clinic; however, these days, more and more physicians are using at-home sleep testing equipment that allows patients to be tested while in the comfort of their own beds.