"These results suggest that undetected obstructive sleep apnea could have long-term, negative effects on vocational functioning," said principal investigator Patricia Haynes, an associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Nearly 30 million adults in the United States have obstructive sleep apnea, a chronic disease that involves the repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep.
Common warning signs include snoring, choking or gasping during sleep. Untreated sleep apnea can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and impairments in cognitive functioning.
The analysis of data from the ongoing, prospective Assessing Daily Activity Patterns through occupational Transitions (ADAPT) study involved 261 participants with an average age of 41 years and 58 per cent of the participants were women.
73 per cent received hourly wages rather than a salary, and about 45 per cent of the participants had a history of multiple job losses. Breathing during sleep was evaluated with a home sleep apnea test, which revealed that 42 per cent had at least mild sleep apnea.
The authors noted that one limitation of the study was the inability to include body mass index in the analysis.