The number of sleep apnea cases in the U.S. is increasing, and a new study suggests that it’s mostly due to more of us becoming overweight.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which people have trouble staying in deep sleep because their throats close, blocking their airways and requiring them to partially awaken to start breathing again.
The study involved over 600 adults, ages 30 to 70, who underwent sleep tests between 1988 and 1994, with some continuing to take part along with hundreds of new participants from 2007 to 2010.
The findings of the study, which was conducted in Wisconsin, show a spike of 55-percent more sleep apnea cases among the study participants over the last 20 years. Study authors believe these figures may translate to the entire United States.
During the study, participants were considered to have moderate-to-severe breathing problems if they had trouble breathing 15 or more times an hour while sleeping.
Among all study participants, heavier people were 80 to 90-percent more likely than thinner people to suffer from sleep apnea.