Iowa Sleep Blog

Common Things that Aggravate Obstructive Sleep Apnea without You Realizing It

Monday, November 30, 2015

It doesn’t matter if you’ve suffered from obstructive sleep apnea for years or a couple weeks, there are many things, large and small that can affect OSA. In fact, there are more than 22 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea each night. But, did you know that some of these sneaky but common things could also be aggravating your OSA? Check out Iowa Sleep’s list below:

Foods – There a handfuls of foods that might be affecting your sleep apnea without you even realizing it, such as bananas and high fat dairy products. While bananas are a great source of fiber and nutrients, they may also increase mucus production and worsen breathing problems associated with sleep apnea. While a slice of cheesecake or a plate of nachos sounds like a perfect evening snack, they could be keeping you up, as well. The high fat levels in some dairy products can block the airway and trigger an increase mucus production.

Hormone disorders – An imbalance of hormone levels, either too much or too little, can also affect your obstructive sleep apnea. One imbalance is called hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone that controls how your body uses energy. Another that worsens sleep apnea is acromegaly, where the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone. If the enlarged bone or excess tissue is in the face or mouth, this can cause blockage in the airway, making it difficult to breathe while sleeping.

Change in diet – With the colder Iowa weather and holidays approaching, sticking to an OSA friendly diet can be hard with special treats, parties, and events that go late into the night. While a sweet treat or another beverage while at a holiday party might be fun to splurge on, consider how it will affect your sleep later on. Alcohol may be a depressant that makes you feel tired, but it will disturb your sleep later in the evening, making it difficult to achieve a deep REM cycle. As for those extra slices of pumpkin pie and sugar cookies, they can also keep you up as your stomach tries to digest them.

Above all, the best way to manage your obstructive sleep apnea is to create – and stick to – a consistent sleep routine, such as waking up and falling asleep at the same times each day and keeping electronics out of the bedroom. Even while practicing these habits, if you or someone you know has trouble falling or staying asleep, reach out to Iowa Sleep. With or without an OSA, our doctors will work with you to learn what is keeping you up at night and work with you to get you sleeping well again. Send us a question online or give us a call to learn more.