Estimating the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing among collegiate football players

Devon A. Dobrosielski, Dalton Nichols, Julia Ford, Amy Watts, Joshua N. Wilder, Tamara Douglass-Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Obstructive sleep apnea is a clinical disorder characterized by loud snoring, apneic episodes, and chronic sleep disruption. Collegiate football players exhibit several risk factors for OSA, including large neck circumference and high body mass index, although the prevalence of OSA in this cohort is unknown. METHODS: The STOP-BANG questionnaire was administered at random to members of a collegiate football team and used to stratify the players into high and low risk for sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). Those who completed the questionnaire were then evaluated for SDB during preseason camp using a single-channel (finger pulse oximetry) photoplethysmography- based device. SDB was defined as an apnea-hypopnea index of ≥5. RESULTS: Of 56 players who underwent overnight photoplethysmography monitoring, valid results were available for 51. Forty-eight percent of the players were high-risk (neck size = 44.6 ± 2.2 cm, body mass index = 33.0 ± 5.4) versus low-risk (neck size ± 41.4 ± 2.8 cm, body mass index = 27.6 ± 3.6) (both P values <.001). An apnea-hypopnea index of ≥5 was found in 2 (8.3%, 95% CI 1.0-20.0%) high-risk and 2 (7.7, 95% CI 1.0-18.4%) low-risk players. Two offensive linemen, a linebacker, and a tight end accounted for the positive cases. CONCLUSIONS: Based on our sample, we estimate the prevalence of SDB among collegiate football players to be 8%, regardless of risk stratification. Given the strong link between SDB and cardiovascular disease, these data underscore the importance of screening and subsequent treatment of SDB in this highly conditioned yet potentially vulnerable group of athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1144-1150
Number of pages7
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Athletes
  • Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA)
  • Photoplethysmography
  • Sleep disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing among collegiate football players'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this