With increasingly powerful TV screens and streaming platforms, everything is designed to keep us on the couch. But if you spend hours in front of the TV and aren’t particularly motivated to be physically active, your sedentary lifestyle could be playing a nasty trick on you: you’re increasing your risk of sleep apnea, a source of fatigue and cardiovascular disease, according to a study.
To remedy this, researchers recommend regular exercise and less screen time. According to a study published on the National Library of Medicine website, two factors can cause sleep apnea: a sedentary lifestyle and excessive TV viewing.
According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea refers to “pauses in breathing lasting 10-30 seconds or longer, occurring at least five times per hour of sleep and repeating up to 100 times per night”.
In the US it is estimated that 18 million adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The number of sufferers has been increasing dramatically because of the sedentary lifestyles that are becoming more common.
To find out which factors exacerbate this disease, the researchers used medical data collected in a large-scale study called the Nurses Health Study, conducted between 1995 and 2013 and in parallel between 2002 and 2012. The first group included 68 265 women and 19 320 men. The second group included 50 332 women and 50 332 men.
The researchers focused on data on physical activity, screens, and the presence of sleep apnea. Four hours in front of a screen increased the risk of sleep apnea by 78%. The researchers estimate that sedentary work increases the risk of sleep apnea by 49%. The study found that time spent in front of the TV is associated with prolonged periods of inactivity. To reduce the risk, it’s no wonder the researchers recommend getting at least 10,000 steps of physical activity a day and spending less time in front of screens.
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