Susan Boyle performs on YouTube
Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images
Her golden voice and unlikely story have inspired people the world over, but does Susan Boyle have sleep apnea?
As a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent, Susan Boyle, a 47-year-old single homemaker from Scotland, has been propelled onto the world-stage with her extraordinary singing gift. Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables has been viewed on YouTube more than 100 million times in the past few weeks. She is all the more exceptional because she doesn’t look the part of a stereotypical successful singer, variously described in the media as “dowdy” and “frumpy”.
One of my colleagues casually inquired, “Do you think Susan Boyle has sleep apnea?” I would caution greatly against diagnosing someone at a glance, but sometimes it is possible to recognize a zebra for its stripes. She does have some of the physical characteristics that would put her at risk for having sleep apnea: she is obese and she has a large neck with redundant tissue (i.e., a double chin).
How does excessive weight cause sleep apnea? Fat can deposit along the airway and narrow the passage for airflow. In addition, excessive tissue and loss of muscle tone can make the airway more prone to collapse which can lead to sleep apnea.
It is no guarantee that Susan Boyle has sleep apnea, but she is certainly at risk given her body habitus. If she has other symptoms of the disorder, I would encourage her (and anyone else) to have a sleep study. In the meanwhile, I hope we enjoy her amazing talent for many years to come.Follow me on Twitter to receive notice of all the latest updates to this site.