Life with sleep apnea can be challenging. You might drift off while behind the wheel, you could have trouble focusing at work, and your spouse will become increasingly irritated from listening to your loud snoring night after night. But as bothersome as these symptoms can be under normal circumstances, there are several risk factors that could make them even worse. Read on to learn about 6 behaviors and health issues that could be making your nights even more restless.
1. Gaining Weight
Obesity is considered the main factor that can contribute to sleep apnea. When you gain weight, the tissues in your mouth and throat get larger, leaving your airway more likely to collapse; this can cause sleep apnea or – if you already have it – make it more severe. On the other hand, losing weight might actually help relieve your symptoms.
2. Drinking Alcohol
While some people find that a drink can help them fall asleep, it could also affect the quality of their rest. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and your tongue, meaning they fall back and block the airway. Ideally, you should cut down on the amount of alcohol you consume before bed.
3. Certain Medications
Despite what you might think, taking sleeping pills won’t help your sleep apnea if you have sleep apnea. Not only will your throat muscles be even more prone to relaxation and collapsing on top of the airway, but the medicine will make it harder for you to wake up and get the oxygen you need.
4. High Blood Pressure
About 30 to 40% of adults with high blood pressure also have sleep apnea. The higher your blood pressure, the worse sleep apnea tends to be; conversely, the stress of sleep apnea can directly cause blood pressure to rise.
5. Sleeping on Your Back
When you sleep on your back, the tongue is pulled down towards the airway, usually leading to obstruction. To fix this issue, you might try a positional therapy device that encourages you to sleep on your side.
6. Sleep Deprivation
When sleep apnea has prevented you from enjoying a full night’s rest, your body will launch into the deepest period of sleep (also known as rapid eye movement or REM sleep) much more easily than it normally would. Unfortunately, doing so puts the body in a much higher state of relaxation, thus making sleep apnea episodes more likely. Ironically, by trying to make up for the sleep you’ve lost, your body only exacerbates the problem.
A sleep apnea doctor can help you identify these and other factors that could be contributing to your troubled slumber so that an effective treatment plan can be made. Don’t force yourself to live with your exhaustion; start seeking sleep apnea help today!
About the Author
Dr. Dustin C. Lively works every year to learn as much as he can about the field of sleep dentistry so that he can keep bringing his patients the best care possible. He has advanced training in creating custom-made sleep appliances and can help you identify lifestyle choices that might be linked to your sleep apnea. To schedule an appointment at his Mangum practice, EZ Sleep Solutions, visit his website or call (580) 782-2027.