Undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea has been associated with having multiple job losses

An image to illustrate sleep apnea
© iStock/courtneyk

According to a new study, people who have become recently unemployed and have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea have a higher risk of having lost a job multiple times.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, their results show that in people with undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, an experience of multiple involuntary job losses were more likely than it participants who did not have obstructive sleep apnea. Indeed, those with moderate to severe sleep apnea were twice as likely to have had multiple layoffs or firings at work.

The study is ongoing and prospective, and is titled Assessing Daily Activity Patterns through occupational Transitions (ADAPT).

Obstructive sleep apnea

Common warning signs include:

  • Snoring;
  • Choking during sleep; or
  • Gasping during sleep.

If untreated, sleep apnea can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue and cognitive functioning impairments.

The study results

The study involved 261 participants, with the following characteristics:

  • An average age of 41 years;
  • 58 percent were women;
  • Seventy three percent received hourly wages rather than a salary;
  • Around 45% of participants had a history of multiple job losses;
  • 42 percent of the group had at least mild sleep apnea, according to the home sleep apnea test used in the study to evaluate breathing during sleep.

Interpreting the results

The principal investigator and associate professor the Department of Health Promotion Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Patricia Haynes, Ph.D., explained: “These results suggest that undetected obstructive sleep apnea could have long-term, negative effects on vocational functioning.”

American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes: “After a propensity score analysis, 39 matched pairs (78 participants) remained for the logistic regression model. Results were controlled for potential confounders such as age, sex, race, and job payment type.”

However, a limitation of the study noted by the authors is the inability to include body mass index (BMI) in the analysis.

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