6. Medications

Medications

Prescription medications can often have a negative effect on sleep apnea. “If you’re taking muscle relaxants, you’re going to expose yourself to greater snoring and sleep apnea,” Chediak said, adding that “the vast majority of sleeping medications have a muscle relaxant property.” Sleeping medications make it much more difficult to wake from a deep sleep. A noise must be louder. A pain must be sharper. An episode of sleep apnea must last longer in order for “more respiratory compromise” to wake the brain and restore normal breathing. Painkillers can also cause problems, according to experts, as opioids and other medications can cause respiratory suppression and add to the breathing difficulties a person may face overnight.

5. Other Medical Problems

Other Medical Problems

Diabetes and high blood pressure are known to raise a person’s cardiovascular risk and are also associated with higher rates of sleep apnea. “About 30 to 40 percent of adults with high blood pressure also have sleep apnea, which is more prevalent in those with drug-resistant hypertension. So approximately 80 percent of patients that don’t respond to hypertensive medication have some apnea,” Singh says. “Adhering to sleep apnea treatment is a proven means of decreasing blood pressure.” About 7 in 10 people with type 2 diabetes also have obstructive sleep apnea, she said. The magnitude of the sleep disorder directly impacts diabetes symptoms, and poor glucose control is linked with more severe sleep apnea.

4. Sleep Position

Sleep Position

Sleeping on your back further intensifies sleep apnea, and by sleeping on your side you lessen the symptoms, said Schulman, which correlates to the weight distribution on the airway. “Sleeping on your back makes the tongue relax back further, and that tends to make sleep apnea worse,” Singh added.

The use of positional therapy devices that make you sleep on your side help serve as a sleep apnea treatment. Options like slumberBUMP, which is a belt with a pillow attached to the back, make it uncomfortable for individuals to sleep on their back, and force them to stay in a lateral position during sleep.

Related: Fix Your Health Problems by Sleeping Correctly
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