How Many People Have Sleep Apnea

How Many People Have Sleep Apnea in 2024? (Quick Stats)

Published on: April 18, 2023
Last Updated: April 18, 2023

How Many People Have Sleep Apnea in 2024? (Quick Stats)

Published on: April 18, 2023
Last Updated: April 18, 2023

Quick Answer 🔍

How many people have sleep apnea in 2024?

Worldwide, it’s estimated that about 936 million people have sleep apnea.

When discussing the number of people that have sleep apnea, it’s important to know that there are some common misconceptions and things you need to know about this condition.

For instance, did you know that there are three forms of sleep apnea? Not everyone knows that. 

In the following paragraphs, we will be addressing not only the demographics of sleep apnea, but some facts, figures, and data about it to help you learn more about it.

If you suffer from sleep apnea in any form, this article will provide some insights into this medical condition. 

We are not doctors, nor do we provide any form of medical advice. We report facts, figures, and information from expert websites about the subject.

Always check with your physician before making any changes to your lifestyle if you suffer from any kind of sleep apnea. 

How Many People Have Sleep Apnea in 2024?

Data from 2021 reveals that approximately 12%, or around 30 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea.

Worldwide, it’s estimated that about 936 million people have sleep apnea.

If you notice that your child, spouse, or other loved one is temporarily not breathing and then starts up suddenly after a loud snore or snort, it’s wise to go get a diagnosis from a doctor since this condition can result in long-term health problems if left untreated. 

As we will do throughout this article, it’s better to see a doctor if you have the symptoms of this sleep disorder than to ignore sleep apnea.

What Constitutes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea

First, sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that results in shallow breathing or causes someone to stop breathing for a few seconds to a few minutes.

This can occur more than 30 times per hour. When regular breathing begins again, the sufferer may make a choking or snorting sound.

One common misunderstanding about sleep apnea is that everyone with this disorder snores.

Not everyone snores if they suffer from sleep apnea.

However, people with sleep apnea tend to snore loudly if they do snore

What Are the Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea?

The most common type of sleep apnea is reportedly obstructive sleep apnea, which we will address later in this article.

The highest risk factors for sleep apnea include being overweight, family history of the condition, or being male. 

Since sleep apnea isn’t exclusive to obesity, gender, or genetics, some outliers may include children with enlarged adenoids or tonsils.

Sleep apnea is not a cookie cutter sleep disorder.

Here is a list of some other risk factors you should know.

  • Getting older
  • Sinusitis
  • Nasal congestion
  • Large adenoids or tonsils
  • Allergies
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Family history
  • Large overbite or recessed chin
  • Large circumference of the neck
  • Down Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Menopause
  • Hormone and thyroid issues
  • Pregnancy
  • Inflammation

Some other conditions that have been linked to sleep apnea include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Central nervous system diseases (like encephalitis)
  • Kidney and neurological disorders
  • Use of drugs like opioids
  • Use of pain relief medications
  • Acclimatizing to higher altitudes
  • Recent high altitude ascents

What Are the Types of Sleep Apnea?

This section will discuss the types of sleep apnea and some pertinent and brief details. 

Obtrusive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

As mentioned, the most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea.

This type is where a person stops and starts back breathing repeatedly throughout the sleep process. 

In this form of sleep apnea, the throat muscles sporadically relax, resulting in blocking of the airways when sleeping.

While not all people with sleep apnea snore, snoring is a common sign of this sleep disorder. 

CPAP and other devices are often used to prevent periodic breathing disturbances by opening the airways for proper breathing.

Surgery is a last resort, but another option.

Obstructive sleep apnea may present with these symptoms:

  • Being overly sleepy during the day
  • Loud snoring
  • Noticeable episodes of breathing stoppage during the sleep cycle
  • Abruptly awakening along with choking or gasping
  • Waking with a sore throat or dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Problems with concentration throughout the day
  • Depression, irritability, or other mood changes
  • High blood pressure
  • Reduced libido

If you or someone you love presents with these symptoms, it should be addressed by your physician.

Central Sleep Apnea

Less common than OSA, central sleep apnea is challenging to diagnose and to treat.

Central sleep apnea is an issue with the nervous system and results for neurological reasons, as opposed to mechanical reasons like with OSA.

Central sleep apnea happens when the brain doesn’t send the appropriate signals to the muscles that control breathing. 

This condition is also treated with breathing devices like a CPAP machine and will sometimes be accompanied by oxygen.

The symptoms of central sleep apnea aren’t much different from OSA. The symptoms of central sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Breathing pauses during sleep
  • Sudden or abrupt waking during sleep
  • Insomnia (difficulty staying asleep)
  • Concentration issues
  • Mood changes
  • Morning headaches
  • Snoring (usually not as loud or prominent as with OSA)

Be sure to ask your doctor if you suffer from one or more of these symptoms. 

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

Complex sleep apnea syndrome is essentially a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Therefore, not only are the throat muscles relaxing, but also the brain is not sending proper signals to said muscles.

As you will see in this list of symptoms and signs, there are few differences. 

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Gasping for air while asleep
  • Waking with dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Insomnia (difficulty staying asleep)
  • Hypersomnia (extreme sleepiness during the day)
  • Problems with focusing or paying attention during waking hours
  • Irritability

Loud snoring is a common sign of all forms of sleep apnea.

It’s recommended that you see a doctor if you snore loudly, someone reports pauses in your breathing during sleep, or any of the aforementioned symptoms.

Remember, not everyone with sleep apnea snores, so be aware and diligent regarding all the signs and symptoms.

What Can Happen if Sleep Apnea Is Left Untreated?

There are some complications that can occur if sleep apnea is left untreated.

Sleep apnea has been linked to the increase in risk factors for the following:

  • Asthma symptoms
  • Eye conditions like glaucoma
  • Stroke
  • Complications in pregnancy
  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Metabolic syndrome as seen in hypertension and type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular complications resulting from lack of oxygen
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Inability to focus, memory issues, and other forms of cognitive issues

Another common misconception about sleep apnea, regardless of the type, is that it’s harmless.

It may not always cause complications like the above, but the potential is there, especially if one has other health issues or is elderly.

The links between complications and sleep apnea are still unclear, but are often seen as per reports by medical doctors and researchers.

Therefore, no matter what, anyone with sleep apnea should seek advice from a medical professional to not only treat the condition, but to find out if there is an underlying medical problem.

What Are Some Treatments for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea

Treatments are intended to normalize breathing and also address underlying health issues where applicable.

The treatment options vary according to the cause and severity of the sleep apnea.

Lifestyle changes can be useful as first step options.

Changing to a healthier diet, intentionally developing healthy sleep habits, limiting or eliminating alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, losing and managing weight, and sleeping on one’s side may help reduce sleep apnea in some cases. 

When lifestyle changes don’t help, there are other treatments like these:

  • CPAP is the primary form of sleep apnea treatments. It comes with a mask and equipment to help push consistent air supply into the nose or mouth. 
  • Surgery, while somewhat less common, can be performed to shrink or stiffen the muscle tissue that is obstructing the airways. 
  • MRD, mandibular repositioning device, is a customized apparatus used to hold the jaw forward to expand the area and open airways. 
  • Medications like triazolam, zolpidem, and acetazolamide can be used after consulting with a doctor if needed. Since these medications have some major side effects, this is not the best treatment for everyone.

No one treatment is best for all people with sleep apnea. 


As you can see from what we have gathered about the number of people who have sleep apnea and other data about the condition from reliable and scholarly sources, it’s not something to ignore. 

Loud snoring, while annoying, could be a major sign of sleep apnea that should be checked.

While sleep apnea doesn’t always present with snoring, there are other signs and symptoms to be aware of and to ask your doctor about. 

It’s better to know something than to take chances with sleep apnea.

With so many treatments available, there is no reason to suffer or potentially risk long-term health issues.


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Written by Jason Wise

Hello! I’m the editor at EarthWeb, with a particular interest in business and technology topics, including social media, privacy, and cryptocurrency. As an experienced editor and researcher, I have a passion for exploring the latest trends and innovations in these fields and sharing my insights with our readers. I also enjoy testing and reviewing products, and you’ll often find my reviews and recommendations on EarthWeb. With a focus on providing informative and engaging content, I am committed to ensuring that EarthWeb remains a leading source of news and analysis in the tech industry.