A new study has concluded what most sufferers of sleep apnea know already – that their symptoms get much worse during the winter months. The study, conducted by Cristiane Maria Cassol of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, followed over 7,000 patients with sleep apnea over 10 years to find out how seasonal changes affect the way people breathe during sleep.
The “breathing events” of patients were monitored using a range of different factors, including temperature and humidity. Those patients who were measured during the colder months experienced more “events” where they stopped breathing – 18 times an hour – as opposed to those measured in summer – 15 times an hour. Critically, it was also found that the most severe cases, or those patients who stopped breathing over 30 times an hour, were also measured during the colder months.
The study’s researchers believe that a combination of seasonal factors may affect the severity of the condition. These include:
- Weight gain during winter
- Allergies and sensitivities to changes in the environment such as wood burning fires
- Upper respiratory-related illnesses
So what does this for sleep apnea sufferers? Well, strap yourself in and get ready for a bumpier ride in winter. The best thing to do is to avoid getting a cold or flu, or any kind of chest infection and try to keep exercising and eating well over those colder months to keep your weight down. If you’re an asthmatic or sensitive to allergies, stick to your medication and try to avoid situations where you’ll be exposed to nasties like wood smoke.