Sleep Apnea is truly a medical condition, and it can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or family history. It’s important to understand, though, that certain lifestyle factors do put you at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea. By understanding these risk factors and identifying them in your own life, you then have the opportunity to control them.
Carrying around excess body weight is, by far, the most significant sleep apnea risk factor. Of course, people of a healthy weight may also develop the condition, but changes that occur in a person’s anatomy as a result of being overweight can absolutely contribute to sleep apnea.
For example, people who are severely overweight often have fatty tissue deposits at the back of their throat and other areas affecting the upper airway. These deposits can cause breathing obstructions, which may induce or worsen sleep apnea.
If you’re unsure about what the ideal weight is for your height and body type, a great place to start is with your body mass index (most commonly referred to as BMI). This is a scale that provides a generalized indication of your body composition and body fat percentage, and it can be incredibly useful in determining your healthy goal weight.
Smoking negatively affects your overall health and well-being in just about every way, so it should come as no surprise that this habit increases your sleep apnea risk. The connection between smoking and sleep apnea has been established in multiple scientific studies, and it has been said that smokers are three times more likely to develop sleep apnea than those patients who do not smoke.
The same correlation has been made between sleep apnea risk and long-term use of alcohol and other sedatives. These chemicals relax the muscles of the throat, allowing for the vibrations, obstructions, and other phenomena associated with sleep apnea.
Certain prescription drugs may also increase your sleep apnea risk, so if you are currently taking any regular medications, it’s wise to ask your healthcare professional if they may be contributing to the condition. If the answer is yes, your practitioner may be able to offer an alternative medication that is safer for your unique situation.
Interestingly enough, multiple studies have suggested that singing and other vocal exercises may reduce your sleep apnea risk. Theoretically, these vocal exercises strengthen the muscles of your airway, which then reduces the amount of vibration occurring in these structures and prevent the collapse of soft tissues commonly associated with the condition.
In addition to singing, patients have been encourages to being learning to play a wind instrument or participate in a specific set of throat exercises to alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Whatever you do in order to reduce your sleep apnea risk, be sure to seek the support of trusted friends and family whenever necessary, especially if you share your home with them. In most cases, simple lifestyle changes are all that is needed, and having the support of loved ones certainly makes the process easier.
Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!