Smoking and Sleep Apnea
It is no secret that smoking is bad for your health. Smoking causes lung disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, eye diseases, and a range of other chronic and life-threatening issues. However, did you know that people who are habitual smokers are three times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than those who never smoke?
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder that manifests as interrupted breathing when you are sleeping. This interruption is caused by the tissues of the throat that have become inflamed or too relaxed, closing off the airway.
When your body does not receive oxygen, it prompts you to wake up resulting in disrupted sleep — sometimes hundreds of times in the night. The shortage of oxygen in the blood, as well as restless sleep, can result in a number of serious and life-threatening health disorders.
Unfortunately, people who smoke are at a much higher risk of developing sleep apnea than people who don't.
Many people believe that if they have a cigarette before bedtime, they will feel relaxed and be able to sleep better. However, the nicotine that goes into your bloodstream is a powerful stimulus that can cause sleep-disordered breathing and insomnia rather than put you to sleep.
Smoking disrupts your natural sleep cycle and can have a long-lasting impact on your ability to get restful sleep. The smoke also irritates your nose and throat, leading to swelling and inflammation, shrinking your air passages. Smoke also relaxes the muscles in the back of your throat, making them close off your airways. In addition, it increases the amount of mucous congestion in the upper airways, resulting in retained fluid and causes muscle function damage.
All of these things induce airway obstruction, leading to sleep apnea. In reality, if you smoke before bed, you may also notice that you may be waking up more frequently during the night for no reason. This can be an indication that smoking is exacerbating your sleep apnea causing you to wake up. In addition, people who smoke also develop a snoring problem that is louder and more frequent than people who do not smoke.
Can Secondhand Smoking Lead to Sleep Apnea?
Keep in mind that second-hand smoking can also have the same effects as smoking. If you have sleeping partners or children at home, your smoking may be detrimental to their health as well.
According to research, children between the age of three and 18 with severe obstructive sleep apnea, who were exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke had a significantly higher median apnea-hypopnea index, which measures the interruption of breathing per hour.
Even if you are unwilling to quit smoking, you need to keep in mind that your habit is adversely affecting your loved ones and may inadvertently be causing sleep disorder problems in them as well as other health conditions.
Smoking is associated with a range of health issues. Fortunately, there are now more options than ever when it comes to finding help for people who want to quit. If you or someone in your family suffer from sleep apnea, Dr. Cynthia Colson and at San Tan Oral Surgery can treat them. Schedule an appointment by calling (480) 604-2592 so that we can help your health get back on track.