Sleep Apnea and Quality of Life

How do you feel today? Happy? Lethargic? Nostalgic? How we feel on a day-to-day basis basically determines our life happiness. In fact, a wise soul once said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Many people, though, have an overall low quality of life, based on their subjective opinions. We can measure heart rate, oxygen in the blood, and sugar levels, but do those numbers matter if our quality of life is low? Let’s take a look at some research that focuses on how sleep apnea affects overall quality of life.

Using self-administered surveys on physical activity, social activities, physical health problems, bodily pain, mental health, emotional issues, vitality, and general health perceptions, the research team in this study was able to collect data on over 1,000 subjects. These subjects had all also previously undergone an overnight sleep study that was used to assess the presence and severity of sleep apnea. By comparing the groups with and without sleep apnea, the team was able to make an assessment on differences in quality of life.

The results showed that those with sleep apnea were much less likely to report being “completely satisfied” with life. In addition, the apnea sufferers were also less likely to report their health as “excellent” when compared with those who had normal sleep. Overall, the scores for mental health, social functioning, physical functioning, vitality, and general health perceptions were lower in those suffering from sleep apnea1. 

It may be that many of those suffering from sleep apnea in this study were also overweight, which may contribute to their overall lower quality of life and physical functioning. However, it is not farfetched to assume that sleep apnea does cause a decrease in general energy levels, leading to the perception that overall health status is lower. Perhaps some sleep apnea treatment in these patients would improve their outlook!



1. Finn L, Young T, Palta M, Fryback DG. Sleep-disordered breathing and self-reported general health status in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study. Sleep. 1998 Nov 1;21(7):701-6.

Janna Mantua


Janna is a PhD Student / Graduate Research Assistant at University of Massachusetts Amherst with a background in clinical sleep research and psychology. Janna Mantua is a PhD student in the Behavioral Neuroscience department at the University of Massachusetts. Her research focuses on sleep and aging, with specific projects on cognitive health, inflammation, memory formation, and neuroimaging. Prior to her PhD work, Janna was involved in research on sleep apnea and cognitive decline at the NYU Sleep Disorders Center.

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