Original Article | Open Access
Loud Snoring is A Risk Factor for Occupational Injury in Farmers
BACKGROUND: Loud snoring is a common symptom in the general population. The evidence-based literature indicates that snoring may be associated with sleep fragmentation and sleep apnea, which may affect cognitive function and predispose to occupational injury. High rates of occupational injury occur on farms and may be related to personal and health factors. Thus, loud snoring may not be a trivial symptom and should be considered as important in medical assessments.METHODS: A prospective cohort study was conducted in Saskatchewan. Baseline questionnaires were completed for 5502 individuals by representatives from 2390 farms. Sleep patterns at baseline were categorized as the following: no reported sleep disorders; physician-diagnosed sleep apnea (treatment unknown); and loud snoring. Survival analyses were used to relate sleep patterns with subsequent injury.RESULTS: A total of 6.7% (369 of 5502) of participants reported a possible sleep disorder. Of these, 69.4% (256 of 369) reported loud snoring only. Loud snoring was only associated with a consistent increase in risk (eg, HR 1.45 [95 CI 1.07 to 1.99 for work-related injury]) for five farm injury outcomes. Relationships between physician-diagnosed sleep apnea and time to first injury were not significant, presumably because a diagnosis of sleep apnea implied treatment for sleep apnea.DISCUSSION: Sleep disorders are an important potential risk factor for occupational injury on farms. Substantial proportions of farm residents report loud snoring and this is related to subsequent injury. Some of these cases may represent sleep fragmentation or undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. Identification and clinical management of sleep disorders related to snoring should be part of health assessments conducted by physicians.
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