Researchers at the University of Wisconsin set out to use Google to determine whether there is a seasonal component to snoring and sleep apnea. Study authors used search engine query data retrieved via Google Trends (from January 2006 to December 2012) via the following search terms: “snoring” and “sleep apnea”. The study is titled “Seasonal trends in sleep-disordered breathing: evidence from Internet search engine query data” was published in the march edition of Sleep and Breathing.
Seasonal effects were investigated by fitting cosinor regression models. In addition, the search terms “snoring children” and “sleep apnea children” were evaluated to examine seasonal effects in pediatric populations.
Statistically significant seasonal effects were found using cosinor analysis in both USA and Australia for “snoring” (p < 0.00001 for both countries).
According to the study’s abstract, “seasonal patterns were observed for ‘sleep apnea’ in the USA (p = 0.001); however, cosinor analysis was not significant for this search term in Australia (p = 0.13). Seasonal patterns for “snoring children” and “sleep apnea children” were observed in the USA (p = 0.002 and p < 0.00001, respectively), with insufficient search volume to examine these search terms in Australia. All searches peaked in the winter or early spring in both countries, with the magnitude of seasonal effect ranging from 5 to 50 %.”
Findings indicate that there are significant seasonal trends for both snoring and sleep apnea internet search engine queries, “with a peak in the winter and early spring. Further research is indicated to determine the mechanisms underlying these findings, whether they have clinical impact, and if they are associated with other comorbid medical conditions that have similar patterns of seasonal exacerbation.”