The effects that snoring has on marriages, whether it is indicative of untreated sleep apnea or not, is seldom the primary focus of news coverage. A recent article in Saudi Arabia’s Emarat al youm Arabic language daily focused on snoring by husbands as being among the main cause of the high divorce rate in Saudi Arabia. Certainly, men across the world are taking notice. While there is no such anecdotal or statistical evidence readily available in the U.S., the question for Saudi men as well as those snorers across the world is “can these relationships be saved with the use ofCPAP machines?”
All kidding aside, these statistics from Saudi Arabia are very real with nearly 80 percent of the divorces in the Gulf Kingdom a result of snoring by husbands. Other leading factors cited are lack of affection towards wives, the widespread Misyar marriage, and the influence of western media and movies on Saudi women. Just as with those chronic snorers in the U.S. and elsewhere, the question is how many of these Saudi husbands are potentially suffering from sleep apnea.
According to a fairly recent Saudi Gazette article, one in three men in Saudi Arabia are at risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) according to statistics revealed at the 4th Gulf Sleep Medicine Meeting held recently in Dubai. The results were derived from a study conducted at King Khalid University and King Fahd National Guard primary healthcare clinics in Riyadh between December 2005 and March 2006. This study is the first to assess the prevalence of OSA in Saudi Arabia, looking at high-risk individuals such as middle-aged Saudi males and women using the Berlin questionnaire and primary care settings.
Official data showed a divorce rate of as high as 40 percent in some years within Saudi Arabia, which is far above the international rate of 18 to 22 percent. While Misyar is statistically the main factor for many of the divorces, snoring among Saudi husbands is a definite contributing factor to the high divorce rate. A Misyar contract is a marriage contract where couples can live separately but get together regularly, often for sexual relations.
Here in the U.S., the use of a CPAP machine, its effect on reducing snoring, and a host of serious health risks is recognized as a major factor in the partners of OSA patients sleeping better. Since these patients no longer snore or toss and turn in order to maintain a normal breathing pattern, their partners sleep soundly, which definitely has a positive effect on relationships.
Although snoring is not OSA, the two conditions often go hand in hand. Millions of men and women across the world with chronic snoring are going undiagnosed for possible sleep apnea, and Saudi Arabia appears to be no exception. With the medical community as well as a large number of organizations dedicated to education and treatment of Sleep Disorder Breathing (SDB), which includes sleep apnea, the word is spreading about the immediate and long-term benefits of using CPAP machines.
According to Prof. Ahemd BaHammam, Consultant of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine and Director of Sleep Disorders Center at King Saud University in Riyadh, OSA awareness and further studies are seriously needed throughout the Middle East. These efforts are sure to have a positive effect on reducing the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics of 100 million people worldwide living with some form of sleep apnea.