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Six Things That Make Sleep Apnea Worse

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common issue for many Americans, to be sure. It’s estimated that roughly 22 million Americans suffer from this sleeping disorder, with approximately 80% of cases in the moderate and even severe range.

And if you have been diagnosed with OSA, (or suspect you have a problem with your sleep), you know that the more severe the condition is, the harder it is to handle.

Moderate and severe OSA links to:

  • Higher risks to your health
  • Noticeable, life-affecting side effects like excessive daytime sleepiness and mood changes
  • Correlated issues like weight gain and cognitive decline

So make sure you aren’t making your OSA worse by curtailing the following habits and behaviors that can greatly affect your sleep.


Six Things to Stop Doing If You Have Sleep Apnea

1. Medication and sleep aids

If you aren’t getting quality rest, it may seem like reaching for a sleep aid is a natural solution that will help fix your problem.

But for obstructive sleep apnea sufferers, sleep aids can actually worsen the underlying condition!

This is because sleep aids relax the muscles throughout the body, putting added pressure on your struggling throat muscles. As such, it is far more likely to cause an obstruction in the airways, leading to more severe sleep apnea.

For more information about sleep aids, see this post.


2. Smoking

Smoking is obviously unhealthy for a number of reasons. And as it turns out, it can affect the severity of obstructive sleep apnea as well.

This is because smokers’ airways are already diminished in function and capacity, which affects your ability to breathe clearly throughout the night.


3. Alcohol

Like sleep aids, alcohol is a muscle relaxer which may initially help you fall asleep, but which will put added pressure and weight on your throat muscles once you have dozed off.

As a result, an obstruction in breathing is far more likely to occur during the night, especially if you have been drinking to excess before bedtime.


4. Lying on your back

Believe it or not, your sleeping position can play a big role in the severity of your obstructive sleep apnea, and your ability to breathe easy during the night.

Many physicians and researchers attest that lying on your back is the most detrimental position for OSA sufferers. This is because all your weight in your neck and throat is being directly pressed onto your airways.

To curb the risk, try sleeping on your left side, or if you’re most comfortable on your back, use a stack of pillows to elevate your head.


5. Having an ever-changing bedtime

Switching up your bedtime is akin to having jet lag, as our bodies and brains prefer a regulated routine when it comes to when we go to bed, and when we wake up.

So to reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, and particularly excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue, make sure you go to bed and wake up at a similar time every night.

For some tips on keeping a consistent bedtime, check out this recent post.


6. Not getting tested and treated

The worst thing you can do if you have obstructive sleep apnea is to ignore the problem. So make sure you are addressing any issues with your sleep as soon as you suspect something is wrong!

With at-home tests and modern treatments that are infinitely more comfortable and easy to use than their dated predecessors, addressing OSA has never been easier. You can start today to ensure you feel at your best for years to come.


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Six Things That Make Sleep Apnea Worse
There are a number of activities and habits that can make sleep apnea worse. So make sure you’re not hurting your health by engaging these behaviors.

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