In contrast to just feeling tired, how likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations? (Even if you have not done some of these things recently, try to work out how they would have affected you.) Use the following sleep test scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:
0 = Would never doze
1 = Slight chance of dozing
2 = Moderate chance of dozing
3 = High chance of dozing
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Date Posted: Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by Alan Berger
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), an estimated 18 million adults in the US have sleep apnea. This life-threatening condition also affects a large percentage of professional athletes and is to be the subject of an upcoming PBS documentary entitled “Tackling Sleep Apnea with NFL Greats”.
Sleep apnea amongst professional football players has been a notable concern since a 2003 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that NFL players risk of sleep apnea can be 14 percent or 4-5 times higher than the average population. Other reports have estimated that the problem may be much worse. The Pro Player Health Alliance, citing a Mayo Clinic Study, estimates that 60% of former NFL players suffer from sleep apnea.
Reasons for this increased risk are most likely related to the increasing weight of professional football players. An analysis of NFL player weights showed that in 1970, only one player weighed over 300 pounds, but by 2010, over 500 players surpassed the 300 pound mark by season’s start. The height of professional football players has also increased but the 2003 study showed that 85 percent of those with sleep apnea were linemen, known to be heavy.
Sleep Apnea is a big enough problem in professional sports that the Pro Player Health Alliance (PPHA) was founded in 2010 to educate and assist player and family members about sleep apnea and related problems.
PPHA has joined with the Living Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to awareness of cardiovascular disease in athletes, in offering the HOPE Program (Heart, Obesity, Prevention, & Education). The HOPE Program was launched in 2012 to address health issues common in former professional football players including obesity-related conditions such as sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea is said to have contributed to the 2004 death of NFL player Reggie White at the early age of 43. In fact, Rolf Benirschke, a former NFL kicker for the San Diego Chargers, said that “[White] had sleep apnea, and he died with the [CPAP] machine at his bedside, unused”. Other NFL players have also spoken publicly about their struggles with sleep apnea such as Tony Dorsett, Roy Green, Dave Krieg, and Percy Harvin.
Sleep apnea doesn’t just affect the NFL. NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal appeared in a video produced by Harvard’s Sleep and Health Education Program entitled “Shaq Attacks Sleep Apnea”.
PRWeb, Living Heart Foundation HOPE Program and Pro Player Health Alliance Tackling Sleep Apnea with NFL Greats to be Featured on PBS, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb11998124.htm (7/05/2014)
Longman, J., NFL Linemen Tip the Scales, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/29/sports/football/29weight.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (1/28/2011)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Storke, Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep, http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm (7/15/2014)
Harvard Medical School, Apnea, http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/sleep-apnea (2013)
The NFL / sleep apnea connection