GB Dental Girish Bharwani DDS
Sleep apnea | memorial tx

Gender Bias in Sleep Medicine

September 18, 2019
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Posted By: Dr. Girish Bharwani
sleep apnea | sleep medicine | memorial tx

Studies have shown that sleep apnea occurs at a greater rate in men than compared to women. This rate is shown to be 2:1. However, in the real world, we see this rate is 8:1. So why does this difference exist?

As most things, there are many factors that go into this discrepancy, but we will be focusing on two of the major ones. 

  1. Currently, there are several different screeners we use to detect those that are most likely to have sleep-related disorders. The two most common are the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and the Stop Bang Questionaire. Both of these have very simple and easy to answer questions and are a great quick screener for those who may have sleep-related disorders. However, both of them have a gender bias. More of the questions on both of these questionnaires will be answered more positively by men than women. Unfortunately, this will result in more women who have sleep issues, being screened out vs. being screened in. 
  2. The other reason why so many women's sleep disorders are missed is due to the fact that most women do not have the cardinal symptoms of sleep apnea. The main symptom we look for as a risk factor for sleep apnea is Snoring. The other factor we look for is Daytime Sleepiness. However, 40% of women, who have moderate to severe sleep apnea are Fatigue, Morning Headaches, and Insomnia

If you are a woman and have been suffering from symptoms like fatigue, morning headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, TMJ and general facial pain, and have visited the doctor or dentist, and no particular explanation exists for having these symptoms, you may have a sleep disorder. 

At GB Dental, we provide a thorough exam to help you figure out if your pain is due to Sleep Disorders or TMJ Disorders. If we feel you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, we will be able to refer you to a sleep physician for further testing. As seen from the information above, it is easy to be missed for sleep disorders. 

For more information on this topic please feel free to look up the study, "An initial report of Sleep Disorders in Women in the US Military," in the journal AMSUS, published February 7th 2018.

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