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What Can Make My Sleep Apnea Symptoms Worse?

January 15, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — sleepdunwoodyteam @ 7:52 pm
Red wine

Obstructive sleep apnea is a health condition that can have serious implications for your overall health. It can regularly interrupt a person’s sleep more than a hundred times in a single night, and this restless sleep can leave a person weary throughout the day and more likely to develop cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure. Here are a few factors that may worsen a case of sleep apnea along with a few changes you can make to mitigate the problem.


During sleep, the muscles and structures in the neck and the rest of the body relax. For sleep apnea patients, this relaxation causes the soft tissues and muscles in the neck to press down on the throat, making it harder to move air in and out of the lungs. Obesity can make this problem worse because of the excessive soft tissue pressing down on the airway during sleep. Talking with your doctor can help you find a way to improve your nutrition and exercise so you can mitigate this issue.

Alcohol Use

Alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant, which means it can cause the structures around the throat to press more heavily on the airway. This can cause more frequent sleep interruptions, and it doesn’t help that having a few drinks before bed may increase your need to get up and urinate throughout the night. It’s best for sleep apnea patients to avoid alcohol entirely.

Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on your back can increase the pressure of your soft tissues against your airway and can even allow your tongue and soft palate to slide backward into your throat. Many sleep apnea patients find that sleeping on their sides helps them mitigate their symptoms so they can enjoy a better night’s sleep.

Certain Medications

Some medications, particularly muscle relaxants and painkillers like opioids, can worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea. To make matters worse, opioids slow the breathing process, meaning that it can be even harder to breathe properly when sleeping. If you have concerns that your medication is worsening your sleep apnea, discuss the issue with your doctor.

While sleep apnea is a serious health condition, it can be treated and mitigated. Consulting with your doctor or sleep dentist can help you find the best way to get a great night’s sleep.

About the Author

Dr. Jeff Rodgers graduated from the University of Alabama School of Dentistry in 1995 and is a board-certified sleep specialist. He is proud to be a Diplomate of both the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. His office in Dunwoody, GA offers sleep apnea treatments like oral appliance therapy that can help patients enjoy better sleep. To learn more about managing sleep apnea, contact the office online or dial (770) 394-4310.

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