Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Sleep Apnea and Women

Women may be more at risk for sleep apnea during pregnancy, or during and after menopause, because of hormone changes. Hormone problems in women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may also raise the risk of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea symptoms in women

Sleep apnea symptoms may be different for women compared with men. Women more often have the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Headaches, especially in the morning
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness
  • Waking up often during sleep

Because you may not have common sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring, you may not think that you have this condition. It is important that you talk to your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms or if you have any risk factors for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea and pregnancy

During pregnancy, changes to a woman’s upper airway or to the way the brain controls breathing raise a woman’s risk of sleep apnea or make it worse. Sleep apnea is often more serious in the third trimester of pregnancy and may improve after your baby is born. Pregnant women who are older or who have obesity have a higher risk of sleep apnea. In pregnant women, sleep apnea can cause many complications, including:

Breathing devices such as CPAP machines are safe for treating sleep apnea during pregnancy. Because pregnancy causes changes to your body, you may need to see a sleep specialist to adjust the settings of your CPAP machine during and after your pregnancy.

Research for your health

NHLBI research found that sleep apnea may raise the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Our current research will help develop new and improved treatments for sleep apnea to help prevent these complications.


Last updated on