a woman who is preventing sleep apnea

Preventing Sleep Apnea

There are some instances in which sleep apnea cannot be prevented, but most can be avoided with certain lifestyle adjustments. While achieving these changes is often easier said than done, they’re relatively straightforward and simple to accomplish in theory. Here’s a look at the four most important measures you can take to prevent the onset of sleep apnea.

Maintain a healthy weight.

In most cases of sleep apnea, obesity plays a major role in the development of the condition. Staying at a healthy weight is one of the best ways to prevent its onset. While people suffering from morbid obesity (a BMI of 40 or greater) are at the greatest risk of developing sleep apnea, it can occur at any weight outside the healthy BMI range for an individual. If you’re already in the obese or overweight categories, there’s some good news: Studies have shown that even modest weight lost, sometimes as little as 10% of your original body weight, can improve the symptoms of sleep apnea greatly.

Avoid smoking.

There are already a lot of reasons to avoid smoking, and sleep apnea prevention can be added to that list as well. The chemicals in cigarettes relax the muscles in the back of the throat, which can cause breathing airways to become narrow and obstructed much more easily than normal.

Drink in moderation.

While an alcoholic beverage every now and again probably won’t be a huge contributing factor to sleep apnea, excessive drinking and drinking right before bedtime can cause problems. Like cigarettes, alcohol has the potential to relax the muscles in the back of the neck and cause obstructions during sleep.

Monitor your medication.

Some nighttime medication, such as sleeping pills or sedatives, can cause problems with sleep apnea. While not everyone will have problems with them, they too can cause excessive relaxation in the muscles of the throat. Unfortunately, this effect is typically uniform across all brands, which means that the only way to avoid it is to reduce your intake of these medications.

Last Updated: August 12, 2014