In what may be the funniest news this week, a new study is finding that women tend to underreport their own snoring. The study looked at 1,913 patients, the average age of 49 years, who were referred to a sleep disorders center at a university hospital.
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Underreporting prevalence and loudness
What they found was that not only did women tend to underreport snoring, they also underestimated its loudness. The study found that 88% of the women snored, but only 72% reported that they snore.
In addition, about 49% of the women had severe or very severe snoring but only 40% of the women rated their snoring at this level. In the meantime, 92.6% of men were found to snore while a nearly identical amount (93.1%) reported snoring.
In terms of snoring loudness, the study found that both men and women were approximately at the same level. Women exhibited a mean maximal snoring intensity of 50 decibels and men one of 51.7 decibels.
Snoring is normally considered to most commonly affect men and those who are overweight. The findings may challenge this notion.
For the study, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire that rated the severity of their snoring while a calibrated digital sound survey meter measured their snoring through an entire night. Snoring intensity was classified from mild (40 - 45 decibels) to very severe (60 decibels or more).
A symptom of obstructive sleep apnea
The results of the study are important as snoring is often a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. However, according to the authors, since there is a social stigma associated with snoring among women, women may hesitate or altogether deny reporting their snoring, leaving them undiagnosed for this disorder.
"The fact that women reported snoring less often and described it as milder may be one of the barriers preventing women from reaching sleep clinics for a sleep study," Maimon said.
As such, Maimon suggests that care providers screening women for obstructive sleep apnea should consider other factors such as daytime fatigue and tiredness in addition to self-reported snoring.
The study results are published in the March 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.