A new study shows that people are more concerned about snoring and sleep apnea in the winter months and early spring. It confirms the results of earlier work showing that people tend to have worse breathing during the winter.

Two Sources of Data

The recent study looked at search patterns on Google for snoring and sleep-apnea-related terms. Looking at data from both the United States and Australia, it found that search frequency for these terms could vary by as much as 5-50% according to the season, remaining high throughout the winter and low during the summer.

This confirms the results from a study published in 2012 that showed patients who came in for treatment of sleep apnea in winter tended to have a higher apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), a measure of how often and how severely your breathing is disrupted at night. It also showed that more people were likely to have very severe sleep apnea in winter (34% compared to 28%). For this study, researchers looked at the records of more than 7500 sleep apnea patients who came in to their clinic over a ten year period.

What Makes Sleep Apnea Worse in Winter?

Sleep apnea may be worsened by many factors in the winter, including:

  • Allergens spread by forced-air heating
  • More frequent colds
  • Dry air leading to irritation of the airway

It’s also possible that people are more aware of their sleep apnea during the winter. Daytime sleepiness may be worsened by shortened days that have people going to and from work in the dark. Irritation of the airway may also make people more aware of their condition in winter because they will wake up with a sore throat.

Although sleep apnea may get worse in winter, for most people it’s a year-round condition that needs treatment. If you need treatment for your sleep apnea, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment at the TMJ Treatment and Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.