Prevalence of snoring and sleep-disordered breathing in a student population

D S Hui, J K Chan, A S Ho, D K Choy, C K Lai, R C Leung
Chest 1999, 116 (6): 1530-6

INTRODUCTION: The prevalence of snoring and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in young adults in Southeast Asian countries is unknown. We aim to determine the symptoms and prevalence of SDB in a university student population using a questionnaire survey followed by home sleep monitoring.

METHODS: The Sleep and Health Questionnaire (a modified version of the Specialized Centers of Research Sleep Questionnaire, translated into Chinese) was distributed to all first-year students (1,306 male and 1,757 female) enrolled in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Subsequently, those students who returned the questionnaires were randomly chosen to undergo portable home sleep monitoring using the MESAM IV device (Madaus Medizin-Elektronik; Freiburg, Germany).

RESULTS: A total of 1,910 replies were obtained from 3,063 questionnaires sent by mail (response rate, 62.4%). The female to male ratio was 1.8:1, with mean age of 19.4 years (SD, 1.3 years) and mean body mass index (BMI) of 20.0 (SD, 2.5). Overall, 25.7% of subjects reported snoring; 10.7% and 42.1% reported impaired performance ability and daytime sleepiness, respectively. Of the 88 subjects who underwent overnight sleep monitoring, 66 subjects (75%) were snorers and 8 subjects (9%) snored > 10% of the night. Male subjects had a higher BMI (p < 0.001) and tended to snore more often than female subjects (p = 0.06). Subjects with an oxygen desaturation index (ODI) > or = 3 had a BMI > 22 (p < 0.05). On sleep study, nine subjects (10.2%) and two subjects (2.3%) had a respiratory disturbance index (RDI) > or = 3 and an RDI > or = 5, respectively, associated with self-reported sleepiness, giving a minimum estimated prevalence of SDB as 0.1% (RDI > or = 5) in the study population. There was no correlation between recorded snoring with either RDI or self-reported sleepiness. Questionnaire responses, neck circumference, and alcohol consumption did not predict the occurrence of SDB.

CONCLUSION: Snoring was prevalent, while SDB was uncommon in this student population. However, snoring and self-reported symptoms by questionnaire were poor predictors for SDB. Male gender showed a trend as an independent predictor for snoring, but not for SDB.

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