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The Dangers of Sleep Aids and Sleep Apnea

People with obstructive sleep apnea often report feeling fatigued during the day. The continual brain activity that is necessary for you to breathe easy throughout the night results in a lack of quality rest. Therefore, it’s not unusual to feel the effects when you’re wide awake.

Do you have obstructive sleep apnea and also have trouble actually falling asleep when it’s time to go to bed?

Then you may have a larger problem on your hands. In these cases, patients want to try a natural or over-the-counter sleep aid to initially fall asleep. This way they can maybe retain some of that much-needed rest they’ve been missing.

But any sleep aid can have adverse effects on obstructive sleep apnea. What’s worse, they can actually make the condition more severe, and more life threatening.

As such, most physicians recommend that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients avoid sleep aids altogether. Their best bet is to find alternative methods for reaching a sleepy state of mind.


How Sleep Aids Affect Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The reason why sleep aids are so dangerous for OSA patients is because of their inherent design.

Sleep aids work by relaxing the muscles throughout the body, which includes the muscles around the throat and mouth. As these muscles relax and fall backwards, added pressure is put on the airway. This then causes a more severe blockage and more severe episodes of sleep apnea.

In addition, because a sleep aid relaxes the brain as well, it can be more difficult for your brain to notice these pauses in breathing. The brain might miss the chance to momentarily “wake up” to get things running again – which is a potentially life-threatening situation.


Alternative Ways to Get a Good Night’s Rest

The best thing you can do if you think you may have obstructive sleep apnea is to get tested.

At-home tests are readily available and can provide detailed information on your sleeping habits. Contact us here to find out more.

Afterwards, the modern treatment is easy to use, comfortable, and fits in readily with your sleeping routine. See how easy they are here.


In addition, if you need help falling asleep to begin with, you can also try the following time-tested and drug-free tricks to get into a restful state of mind.

  • Lower the room temperature – This prompts the body to reach the lower temperature required for sleep
  • Turn off the screens – Blue light emitted from screens can keep your brain awake and active
  • Have a quiet background noise – a fan, white noise machine, or quiet podcast can help you relax while providing a calm distraction
  • Only use the bedroom for sleep – Avoid eating, working, or doing other activities in the bedroom and only use it for rest
  • Pick a scent – Calming scents like lavender or vanilla have been shown to promote sleepiness
  • Have a cup of tea – decaffeinated teas with ingredients like chamomile work similarly to sleep aids, but without the glaring side effects


Simply put, when it comes to obstructive sleep apnea, sleep aids should be avoided. Consult your doctor if you have difficulty falling asleep or need guidance on managing your OSA, and rely on natural and medication-free methods to reach that sleepy state of mind.

Not sure where to begin? Contact us here.

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The Dangers of Sleep Aids and Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea and sleep aids don’t mix! Take a closer look at the risks of using sleep medications if you have OSA, and alternative options for achieving a sleepy state of mind.

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