The Prevalence of Sleep Apnea Within the Military

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Your squad all agrees; you’re a loud snorer. You smile and shake off the banter a couple of times, but they continue to bring it up night after night. Maybe you should stop and listen. It’s possible that they’re not just making you the butt of an easy joke. You may have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that impacts your breathing, and one of its primary symptoms is snoring. You could also wake up feeling tired, suffer from headaches, or experience dry mouth. Although these symptoms don’t sound too concerning, sleep apnea can be life threatening if left untreated, and the prevalence of sleep apnea within the military may surprise you.

Is Sleep Apnea Common Within the Military?

“Recent studies have shown there has been an increase in sleep apnea among troops.” Michelle Worley, Director of Clinical Operations at Aeroflow Sleep and a registered nurse, speculates, “It is unclear the cause, however, this could be contributed to more screening and awareness or genetics like everyone else.”

So, sleep apnea is not any more or less common within the military, but there are a handful of reasons why you’re at higher risk than others; including fitness level, environment, age and sex assigned at birth.

  1. Fitness Level
    Obesity is a comorbidity linked to sleep apnea, but what about soldiers who exercise regularly? You’re at risk for sleep apnea if you have a neck circumference of 17 inches or more, which can be caused by vigorous strength training. This is because Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) — the most common form of sleep apnea — occurs when your throat relaxes during sleep and blocks your airway. The increased pressure being put on your airway from a muscular or fatty neck makes it difficult for your throat to relax.
  2. Environment
    Active military, especially those on tour, may be dealing with environmental factors too. A different climate can affect your breathing positively or negatively, and if you have allergies or are prone to sinus infections, you’re talking about another ailment among those with sleep apnea. Luckily, Worley says, “There are small travel CPAP machines that are now available on the market that also have battery options. These are smaller and easier to pack, especially for deployment.”
  3. Age and Sex
    Finally, the U.S. Military Demographics are congruent with those who are at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2019, there were more than 18 million veterans in the United States; the greatest percentage of whom were men between 65 and 74 years old. Sleep apnea is most common among men of a mature age.

Who is Aeroflow Sleep, and How Can They Help?

If you think you may have sleep apnea, ask your healthcare provider about Aeroflow Sleep. Your doctor will recommend a sleep study to determine if you are a candidate for CPAP therapy, and then we take care of the rest, covering up to 100 percent of your CPAP supplies through insurance. We also pair you with a dedicated Sleep Specialist who will answer any questions and let you know when you are eligible for replacement supplies.

Aeroflow Sleep is in-network with Tricare, the primary form of insurance among veterans and active military, and Tricare covers CPAP therapy. Email us at info@aeroflowsleep.com or give us a call at 844-661-5010 to start your sleep apnea journey today.

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