NFL Offensive Lineman Diagnosed with Severe Sleep Apnea

Sixth-round draft pick (and recently released) Ravens offensive lineman Ryan Jensen just confirmed he was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea.


Sleep Apnea and the NFL

Said Jensen to The Baltimore Sun:

It could have been a disaster, as far as me having the sleep apnea and not knowing,.. It’s a rough thing. Reggie White died in the middle of the night. It could have been catastrophic. It’s a dangerous thing if you don’t get diagnosed... I would get eight hours of sleep and I would feel like I didn’t get any sleep. It got to the point where I was walking around like a zombie. I didn’t have that same fire because of my lack of sleep. It affected me. I’m just glad I got it figured out. I got diagnosed and got treated for it. The Ravens were understanding about it when we talked about it... I feel like I’m getting back to the normal Ryan Jensen.

Jensen isn't the first National Football League player to be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Reggie White was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and in his death at the young age of 43, sleep apnea was implicated as a contributing factor. Reggie's widow, Sara White, now actively campaigns to raise awareness for sleep apnea testing and treatment.

Sleep Apnea Endangers the Heart

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person pauses breathing during sleep for periods lasting 10 or more seconds in duration each. During the breathing pause, oxygen saturation in the blood plummets as air cannot reach the lungs. Carbon dioxide levels in the blood commensurately rise. Blood pressure and heart rate increase, releasing stress hormones into the body, including catecholamines (a form of adrenaline) to attempt to restore the closed airway. Catecholamines constrict blood vessels, raising blood pressure and potentially developing (or worsening existing) hypertension. 

When these dysfunctions in the breathing and resulting oxygen loss happen repeatedly (at least once every other minute in severe sleep apnea patients), morbidity risks for untreated sleep apnea sufferers fatally increase:

  • Hypertension
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Automobile accident
  • Death

In the case of a stroke, Dr. Sachin Rastogi, a radiologist in the Division of Interventional Neuroradiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach notes:

Sleep apnea is one step removed from the heart attack or stroke — it’s what the sleep apnea does to the circulatory system and heart that causes the stroke.


At Austin Sleep Clinic SleepSomatics, we support the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's social media sleep apnea awareness campaign, #StopTheSnore. Sleep apnea fragments and disrupts the sleep architecture, causing or worsening a constellation of symptoms and comorbid disorders and increasing morbidity risks.

The widespread availability and ease of use for accredited, credentialed sleep apnea testing and 5-star customer service sleep apnea treatment means that there is no reason for overweight and obese Americans and all tired, sleepy patients to not get screened for sleep apnea. You don't need to play in the NFL to get your in-lab sleep study today at SleepSomatics.

Concerned you aren't getting enough sleep? If you or someone you care about snores or is tired and fatigued during the day, sleep-disordered breathing (and sleep apnea) may be a serious risk. Get your sleep tested today by SleepSomatics, a professionally credentialed and accredited sleep test center located in Austin since 1999. Call 512.323.9253.

For more information on obstructive sleep apnea and the NFL, read this SleepSomatics article's sources:

The Baltimore Sun: Ex-Ravens offensive lineman Ryan Jensen diagnosed with, treated for severe sleep apnea

CBS Sports: Former Ravens OL Ryan Jensen diagnosed with severe sleep apnea

Inquisitir: Sleep Apnea: Test Confirms Ryan Jensen, Former Raven’s American Football Player, Has Conditon

The Miami Herald: Sleep apnea is a risk factor for strokes

The Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research & Education Foundation

WCNC: Widow of NFL legend Reggie White promotes awareness of sleep disorders

This blog article's thumbnail image credit is CBS Sports.


SleepSomatics Diagnostic Center is a credentialed and accredited sleep center serving Austin and Central Texas since 1999. We provide sleep diagnostic and therapy services including In-Lab Sleep Study, Take-Home Sleep Test, and Sleep Therapy. We gladly accept most insurances and provide you with a written quote of any costs. Questions? Get answers. Let's talk. Call us. We're ready when you are. Call SleepSomatics at (512) 323-9253.