‘Tackle Sleep Apnea’: NFL Greats Come Together to Raise Awareness

Written by Manny Erlich on October 26, 2012. Posted in Blog, In The News

NFL players are coming together to increase the visibility of a common and very serious chronic sleeping disorder — obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The Healthy Living Foundation reports that sleep apnea affects nearly 20 million people in the U.S. and is often found in men with large body mass; however, people of all shapes and sizes are at risk. That’s why the “Tackle Sleep Apnea” team pairs NFL greats with dental icon David Gergen and Sleep Group Solutions to raise awareness through sharing personal experiences that educate people on the importance of being tested for the condition.

Taking “Tackle Sleep Apnea” on the Road

The New England Journal of Medicine’s medical study on sleep apnea and how it affects NFL players found that the disorder affects one-third of professional football players. Because it is so prevalent among football players, particularly linemen (they are of large body mass), the NFL Players Association has joined with the Sleep Pro Network to offer risk assessment and at-home sleep studies to more than 6,000 former players along with sleep therapy when needed, the association says.

The NFL, Sleep Group Solutions, David Gergen’s Orthodontic Lab and the American Legions are taking the “Tackle Sleep Apnea” campaign on the road, traveling to cities across the U.S. to raise awareness about the high instances of the disorder in football players. NFL greats like Warren Moon, Davied Krieg, Mark Walczak and Nesby Glasgow will speak at OSA seminars and educate people on the seriousness of the condition with their stories – or those of other players who didn’t catch OSA in time.

The Health Risks and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea


If you have symptoms of sleep apnea and don’t get tested, you are rolling the dice with danger. Health risks include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, increased blood sugar and potentially even death.

Snoring is the most common symptom among those with sleep apnea. If persistent snoring is followed by interruptions in breathing, it’s time to address the concern. Start by doing a polysomnography, a sleep study that measures breathing patterns, vitals and the functions of your lungs and cardiovascular and neurological systems while you sleep. You can visit a sleep center, or use an at-home sleep test to determine how you’re sleeping.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

If the tests show you are in fact a sleep apnea sufferer, don’tfear. Not only can snoring be reduced, but lives can be changed.

Snoring often accompanies poor sleeping conditions — many sleep with poorly shaped pillows and beds that are old and lumpy, causing a disturbance in sleeping rhythms. There are many great mattresses and pillows out there that are helpful in the battle against sleep apnea.

The CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is the most common and reliable ventilation therapy for sleep apnea sufferers, according to the Mayo Clinic. This effective, yet cumbersome, machine straps a mask to the sleepers mandible and runs all night. The EPAP (expiratory positive airway pressure) is a smaller, disposable device placed over the the nostrils and is reported to be more tolerable to some than the CPAP. And there are several oral appliance options to explore with a dentist. If none of these treatments work, there are surgical options.

Find out more solutions to stop snoring on our Videos page, or visit our Snoring 101 section to learn more!

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Manny Erlich

International Foundation of Employee Benefits - Certified Employee Benefits Specialist

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