Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep Apnea: 5 Things That Make It Worse

Posted by Veselina Dzhingarova on Aug 6, 2020 8:43:37 AM

An afternoon nap may be just what you need.

If you are one of the 18 million adults in the United States who have obstructive sleep apnea, getting a good night’s sleep can be incredibly challenging. To lead a good quality of life, it’s vital that you are well-rested throughout the night, helping to boost energy levels and stamina.

Loud snoring, headaches and difficulty concentrating are just some of the symptoms that are associated with obstructive sleep apnea. To alleviate symptoms and improve your sleep, here are 5 things that can make the condition worse, as well as what changes you can make.

Gaining Weight

Obesity is the most common factor that contributes to obstructive sleep apnea. Excess pounds can make your airway more vulnerable to collapse, especially as your muscles relax while you sleep. Heavier people usually have thicker necks too, which can heighten your risk of developing sleep apnea. It’s estimated that over 50% of people who have obstructive sleep apnea are overweight, so your first step to alleviate symptoms is to lose weight. Changing your diet and factoring in regular exercise can help you lose and manage your weight better.


Many of us enjoy a glass of wine or a pint of beer after a long and busy day. However, alcohol increases muscle relaxation which can exacerbate symptoms linked with obstructive sleep apnea. As you sleep, alcohol can cause an obstruction in your airway, so it’s recommended to cut back on your alcohol consumption or not drink alcohol at all. There are tons of health benefits that you can gain from giving up alcohol, both for your mind and body.


If you use prescription medications like sleeping tablets, you are going to expose yourself to obstructive sleep apnea and greater snoring. The vast majority of sleeping tablets include a muscle relaxant property which can make a sleep apnea episode last longer. There are various side effects that are linked with sleeping tablets, such as dizziness, changes in appetite and daytime drowsiness, so it’s advised to speak with your doctor who can assist you further on what steps to take.


In a nutshell, smoking increases your risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, cigarettes are direct irritants to the throat, upper airway and tongue which can cause the area to swell and aggravate symptoms. Thankfully, there are tons of strategies that you can adopt which can help you stop smoking and kick the habit for good, so knowing your triggers and seeking professional guidance and support is key.

Sleep Position

The position you sleep in can have a huge impact on sleep quality and obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. For those who sleep on their back, this can make the condition worse. It’s advised to sleep on your side which will keep your airway open and help you get a better-quality night’s sleep. A CPAP machine from a company like Medguru supply should be worn as you sleep, which can help reduce snoring.

If you believe that you have obstructive sleep apnea, it’s vital that you see a doctor immediately who can diagnose you. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition which can be fatal, so knowing what to do and what to avoid can help with your symptoms and ease any fatigue and exhaustion commonly linked with the condition.

For more information on diagnosing, treating, and the possible consequences of untreated obstructive sleep apnea click here.

Chronic Drowsiness


Topics: sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, life with sleep apnea

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