A Narrative Review of Sex and Gender Differences in Sleep Disordered Breathing: Gaps and Opportunities

Margaret Bublitz, Nour Adra, Leen Hijazi, Fidaa Shaib, Hrayr Attarian*, Ghada Bourjeily

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is a common condition, associated with multiple comorbidities including cardiovascular and metabolic disease. It has been previously established that SDB is more prevalent in men than women, shifting the literature’s focus away from the latter population. As such, underdiagnosis, and thus undertreatment, of SDB in women exists. Methods: To establish the differences in prevalence, clinical presentation, and pathophysiology of SDB between the two sexes, a narrative review of the current literature was performed. Results: Rates of SDB are higher among men, likely driven by differences in symptom presentation between men and women, with women presenting with more “atypical” symptoms, and lack of sensitivity in SDB screening tools to detect SDB in women. In addition to the cardiovascular risks of SDB, women with SDB may have worse quality of life, higher prevalence of insomnia, and respiratory issues. Discussion: More research is needed to better define the unique pathophysiology and clinical presentation of SDB in women. In addition, an increased awareness among health care providers and the lay public of the SDB-specific sex and gender differences will serve to minimize disparities in identification and treatment of SDB in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2003
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • gender differences
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • sex characteristics
  • sleep disordered breathing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Palaeontology
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'A Narrative Review of Sex and Gender Differences in Sleep Disordered Breathing: Gaps and Opportunities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this