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Can Stress Aggravate Sleep Apnea

There’s no doubt most of us have been under unimaginable levels of stress lately. But are stress and sleep apnea connected? Can stress aggravate or even cause sleep apnea?

The Connection Between Stress and Sleep Apnea

The connection between stress and obstructive sleep apnea is indirect, but stress can make your sleep apnea worse. When you are stressed, you may develop habits that impact your health – drinking, smoking, overeating, apathy toward exercise, unintended weight gain – all of these things can worsen obstructive sleep apnea. And because these habits impact the same areas of health that sleep apnea impacts, like blood pressure. Since poor sleep habits in general impact your health, stress can definitely make your sleep apnea worse.

Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea

If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and you are not treating it because you’ve either been told you need a CPAP or you cannot tolerate your CPAP, stress can be a much more exacerbating factor. By treating obstructive sleep apnea, your stress levels will not directly impact your ability to breathe or maintain your oxygen levels, so even if you sleep poorly, you’re not also decreasing oxygen to your brain and heart, risking more serious health damage. If a CPAP is preventing you from seeking treatment for your obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP is not the only treatment available. For people who are unable to tolerate the CPAP, alternative treatments are available.

Reducing Stress

In addition to treating your sleep apnea, you should also find ways to minimize your stress. Of course, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to get a full night’s sleep, so if you’re ignoring your sleep apnea, getting it treated will help – stress and sleep apnea are like two opposing forces that keep you up at night. Other ways to relieve stress include getting more exercise, meditating, talking to someone – a therapist, friend, or priest, and making sure you’re eating well and staying hydrated. Self-care does matter when it comes to stress.

If you believe you may have sleep apnea and CPAP doesn’t work for you, contact eos dental sleep today. We specialize in the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea using oral appliance therapy and strive to help our patients get a good night’s sleep.