3. Sleep Deprivation
When you are sleep deprived, it is believed that your body craves the deepest kind of sleep and will automatically launch into it to make up for lost sleep time, says Schulman. However, sleep apnea tends to worsen during the deep sleep period of REM, rapid eye movement, owing to its heightened state of relaxation. Sleep deprivation is often a consequence of sleep apnea, which may create a vicious cycle.
Adding to the long list of reasons to quit, smoking can raise your risk of developing sleep apnea and compound breathing problems for those who suffer from it. Cigarettes are direct irritants to the upper airway, the throat, the uvula, the soft palate and the tongue, and over time can make those areas swell. Smoking is also the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is a severe trigger for symptoms of asthma.
For certain people, an anatomic abnormality may be the source. Enlarged tonsils, a deviated septum or a smaller-than-normal airway are some of the most common issues. The problem area is at the back of the mouth and beginning of the throat, and “whether or not somebody’s posterior pharynx is very crowded when you look inside their mouth,” Guralnick said. Although adults most commonly have these issues, children are often faced with them too, such as having enlarged tonsils or enlarged adenoids (glands found in the roof of the mouth). “All those things can increase your risk of having sleep apnea,” he said.Related: Sleep Facts and Myths