Firstly, what is sleep apnoea?

Many people may have sleep apnoea and not even know it. The most commonly reported (and observed by your partner) symptom is usually snoring. You might even be told you make gasping or choking sounds while you’re asleep. Other symptoms include: daytime tiredness, poor concentration, morning headaches, low mood, lack of energy, forgetfulness and weight gain.

When you have sleep apnoea, air stops flowing to your lungs for 10 seconds or longer. You stop breathing. Your brain then senses that you’ve stopped breathing, so it triggers you to wake up just enough to take a breath. Then you fall back to sleep and the cycle starts again. In some people, this can happen 30 times an hour and you may not remember waking up.

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it! This constantly being triggered back into breathing, all night long, can put a strain on your body.

Startling facts about sleep apnoea, obesity & your health: 

  • Obesity is the strongest risk factor for developing sleep apnoea. In fact, more than half of moderate-to-severe sleep apnoea is estimated to be due to obesity. 
  • You are 3 times more likely to suffer a stroke. Almost 70% of people who have had a stroke have sleep apnoea. 
  • Sleep apnoea = increased risk of suffering a heart attack. 
  • 50% of people with high blood pressure may also have sleep apnoea and sleep apnoea is a common cause of high blood pressure.
  • 58% of patients with type 2 diabetes likely also have sleep apnoea.
  • Sleep apnoea doubles the risk of developing depression. 
  • You are 7 times more likely to have a motor vehicle accident and 3 times more likely to suffer a work-related injury or fatality.

The link to safety:

  • The prevalence of sleep apnoea appears particularly high in some occupational groups, such as truck drivers, where there is a male predominance and high prevalence of obesity that increases the risk of sleep apnoea. The issue of safety is also particularly relevant in commercial drivers, who show a higher prevalence of sleep apnoea (between 28% and 78%) compared to the general population, and are more exposed to risk of driving accidents due to their high mileage per year compared with non-commercial drivers. 
  • Sleepiness due to inadequate sleep or sleep disorders is the main cause of the 20% of crashes attributed to fatigue. Obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common sleep disorder contributing to this toll, resulting in a 2 to 3-fold increase in risk.
  • In one study, introducing objective measures to screen for sleep apnoea in Australian rail workers’ health assessments and identified a large number of workers with previously undiagnosed OSA. Imagine how undiagnosed sleep apnoea could be hugely increasing the risk of accidents, fatalities and poor health outcomes at your workplace. Yet, with some small changes you could elicit some BIG wins. For example, a 10% weight loss can sometimes be enough to treat sleep apnoea!

Do you want to know about more small changes that lead to big results? We have a new workshop completely dedicated to this topic, plus a suite of health promotion material based on this concept! We are health and behaviour change experts, let us help you and your staff live your best, most productive and healthy lives. Contact us today.