Snoring And Apnoea Blog

Sleep Disorders & Pregnancy Risks

Posted on Mon, Sep 09, 2013

According to research on the pooled results from a number of recent studies, gestational hypertension and diabetes is much more common in women who experience sleep apnoea during pregnancy.

Gestational hypertension was found more than twice as often in women with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) conditions and gestational diabetes almost twice as often, compared against women without SDB during pregnancy. 

<a href="">Baby image created by Onlyyouqj -</a>

The pooled results of the studies also suggest low-birth-weight infants might be more common among women with sleep apnoea during pregnancy, according to Dr Sushmita Pamidi of McGill University in Montreal, when reporting to the American Thoracic Society international conference.


As many as a third of women report snoring during the third trimester of pregnancy. Common explanations include weight gain, oedema (swelling and fluid retention) and hormonal influences. 

Dr Pamidi and his colleagues undertook a thorough review of 31 previous studies to determine whether there was a link between SDB and pregnancy outcomes. All studies found an adverse link between sleep apnoea and gestational hypertension, sleep apnoea and gestational diabetes and, to a lesser extent, sleep apnoea and low birth weights. 

According to Dr Pamidi, "I think we have learned that there are associations between sleep apnea and gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension, and, to a smaller degree, perhaps to low-birth-weight infants."   He went on to point out, "The main limitation is that most of the studies are small.  Nonetheless, we were able to find a signal, which is a good impetus for having larger trials and bigger cohort studies.”

Tags: sleep apnoea, Pregnancy

Sleep Apnoea And Women

Posted on Thu, Jan 26, 2012

According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, sleep apnea is every bit as serious a health problem for women as for men.  This had not previously been studied because men are more likely to be apnea sufferers and so most studies had focused on that gender.

This study involved 1,116 middle-aged women over several years.  The researchers determined whether the women had sleep apnea or not, measured the severity of the apnea, and divided the women into groups. Some of the women with sleep apnea were then treated with continuous positive airway pressurisation (CPAP).

Women without sleep apnea were used as a "control group" to compare results against.

All women were monitored for more than seven years. During that time, 41 women (4%) died due to a cardiovascular problem.

These deaths related to cardiovascular problems occurred significantly more often in women with sleep apnea not treated with CPAP. According to researcher Dr. Francisco Campos-Rodriguez, the women with untreated severe obstructive sleep apnea had 3 ½ times the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to the women without sleep apnea.

Once again, this highlights the importance of getting treatment for sleep disordered breathing conditions.  If you suspect you, or someone you know, may have a sleep disorder (ranging from simple snoring through to severe obstructive sleep apnoea) arrange a diagnostic sleep study as soon as possible to determine the severity of any condition and an appropriate form of treatment.

Tags: sleep apnoea, sleep apnea, women

Severe Apnoea. How Severe Is It?

Posted on Wed, Jun 22, 2011

Sleep apnoea (ie., the cessation of breathing while asleep) is classified as mild, moderate or severe depending on the average number of ‘apnoeic events’ which occur per hour will the patient is asleep.  To classify as an apnoeic event, the person must stop breathing for at least 10 seconds.  There is no ‘maximum’ period — and we regularly treat patients who stop breathing for 30 seconds to a minute each time.  In particularly severe cases, the patients stop breathing for up to 2 minutes each time. 

Try holding your breath for that long.  Now try doing it a dozen or more times per hour.

A person with ‘mild’ apnoea stops breathing between 5 and 15 times per hour.  That means breathing stops every 4 to 12 minutes. 

A person with ‘moderate’ apnoea stops breathing between 15 and 30 times per hour.  That equates to a breathing stoppage every 2 to 4 minutes.

A person with ‘severe’ sleep apnoea stops breathing 30 or more times per hour.  In extreme cases, we have seen and treated patients who stop breathing over 100 times per hour.  That means they stop breathing more than once every minute, for at least 10 seconds each time.  More typical periods of stoppage are 20 to 30 seconds.

Serious apnoea sufferers may therefore not be breathing for more than half of every hour they’re asleep.  No wonder their blood oxygen levels fall and blood pressure rises.

And no wonder they wake feeling tired.  Typically, each apnoeic event is followed by a ‘micro arousal’, where the patients wakes briefly and resumes breathing.  Micro arousals are so brief, the patient has no conscious awareness of having woken.  Therefore, the next morning they think they’ve sleep for 8 hours straight and can’t work out why they wake feeling so tired.  The reality is they have NOT slept 8 hours straight.  They’ve actually had a hundred or more short naps.

You can imagine how you would feel if you dozed off, then were woken, then dozed off, then were woken, then dozed off, then were woken … again and again, for months and years on end.  The disruption to the quality of your sleep would obviously be massive. 

One of the greatest challenges facing the treatment of apnoea is the fact that the patients simply don’t know they are suffering from the condition — because they’re asleep when it occurs.  That being the case, look for other indicators…

Waking feeling tired is a significant signal.  Feeling drowsy in the afternoon is another.  High blood pressure is a very significant indicator.  Snoring is a major ‘red flag’.  In fact, if you snore and suffer from at least one of the other indicators just mentioned, it is very likely you are suffering from some degree of apnoea.

The good news is, treatment is available and highly effective.  The starting point is to have a diagnostic sleep study performed to determine exactly what is happening while you're asleep.  Most of the cost of this study is covered by Medicare, and we can arrange for the sleep study to be performed in the comfort and privacy of your own home.   Call 1300 246 637 for more information, or contact us online.

Tags: sleep apnoea, Sleep studies, sleep study, severe sleep apnoea

Sleep Apnoea Leads to Stigmatisation?

Posted on Fri, Mar 11, 2011

The Sydney Morning Herald recently a well written and wide ranging article on snoring and sleep apnoea, titled ‘To Sleep Perchance To Sleep’, by Steve Dow.

The article provides a good insight into the life of a person with a severe form of sleep disordered breathing, with some disturbing descriptions of the impacts the conditions can have.

Amongst other things, Dow refers to a 2005 Yale University study which found sleep apnoea doubled the risk of stroke and death.  His article also mentions some of the social / economic consequences – i.e., loss of employment and loss of drivers licence as a result of an untreated SDB condition.

Dow demonstrates this important point when he reports that recent media attention has researchers worried that sufferers may not come forward for treatment, fearing a stigma.   He cites the case of Judge Dodd, the NSW District Court judge who was forced into retirement after the NSW Judicial Commission deemed him medically unfit following an investigation into accusations the then 57-year-old had fallen asleep during evidence in a rape trial.

Sad thing is, he almost certainly suffered from sleep apnoea and almost certainly could have been treated successfully. 

Tags: snoring, sleep apnoea, apnoea, stigma, employment