What Aggravates Sleep Apnea?
There are a lot of familiar treatments for sleep apnea like CPAP and oral devices. These are great to prevent the soft palate from collapsing. But what lifestyle habits make sleep apnea worse? Read this blog for a few key ideas:
Your Weight Can Aggravate Sleep Apnea
As a body gains weight, tissue builds up in the neck and airway passages. This makes them more vulnerable to collapse as your muscles relax when you are asleep. That being said, you can still be thin and have sleep apnea. However, if you already have sleep apnea and begin to gain weight, it is almost certain that your OSA will worsen. People with mild sleep apnea who gain 10% of their baseline weight are at a sixfold-increased risk of worsening their sleep apnea.
How You Sleep Could Be Harming You
When it comes to sleep apnea – gravity is not your friend. Sleeping on your back makes it much easier for your tongue to fall back into your throat and cut off your airway. Sleeping on your side is a much better way to keep your throat open at night.
Too Much Alcohol Consumption Can Make Sleep Apnea Worse
Nothing is better after a long day than cracking open a nice cold beer, right? We do that because it helps us relax. The problem is it helps our muscles relax too. Too much alcohol can cause the muscles in your throat to relax and aggravate sleep apnea. If you suffer from sleep apnea or think you may be suffering from it, avoid drinking alcohol before bed.
Muscle Relaxers Can Make Sleep Apnea Worse Too
If you take muscle relaxers while you have sleep apnea, you are only making the problem worse. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the muscles in your throat relax, your soft palate collapses, and your air passages close. Muscle relaxers only make this worse.
Sleep Aids Can Aggravate OSA
Sleep aids are useful if you are experiencing a sleep deficit (like many OSA sufferers are) but can do more harm than good. When your brain is experiencing a lack of oxygen from a blocked airway, it tries to wake you up. However, if a sleep aid has you deep in sleep, your body has to work harder to wake you up to get oxygen, so you end up in an even more significant sleep deficit.
Diabetes and Sleep Apnea are a Vicious Spiral
About 70% of people with Type 2 diabetes also have sleep apnea. The two feed off each other. As sleep apnea gets worse, diabetes symptoms increase in severity. Similarly, as diabetes symptoms get worse, so does sleep apnea.
Are you concerned you might have sleep apnea? The first step is to take our simple 5-minute online sleep apnea screener. Fill it out and get your results today!