Affecting up to 6 percent of all adults and 2 percent of all children, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), sleep apnea is a widespread sleep disorder. It’s characterized by spontaneous interruptions of breathing or restricted breathing while a person sleeps. Due to its negative impact on sleep quality, many people who suffer from sleep apnea also suffer from chronic fatigue. To minimize the effects of this disorder, sleep apnea sufferers should familiarize themselves with the following five things that can make this disorder worse.

 

Sleeping on Your Back

 

Many people prefer sleeping on their back because it doesn’t stress their spine. When a person sleeps on their stomach, his or her spine bends, thereby increasing the risk of back pain. But sleep apnea suffers shouldn’t sleep on their back either as the weight of their chest compresses their lungs and worsens this disorder.

 

Being Overweight

 

A person’s weight influences his or her risk of sleep apnea as well as the severity of this disorder. Excess weight is the leading cause of sleep apnea. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop this disorder because the excess fatty tissue in their mouth and airways restricts their ability to breathe.

 

Drinking Alcohol

 

Not only does it increase the risk of fatty liver disease, but drinking alcohol can worsen the effects of sleep apnea. Being a depressant, alcohol slows down the body’s metabolic processes. After drinking alcohol, a person’s lungs and upper respiratory muscles function more slowly. As a result, there’s a greater risk of interrupted breathing while the person sleeps.

 

Drinking Full-Fat Milk

 

While an excellent source of calcium and protein, full-fat milk isn’t the best choice of beverage for sleep apnea sufferers. Studies have shown that people who consume lots of high-fat milk and other dairy products are more likely to develop sleep apnea than their counterparts.

 

Taking Muscle Relaxants Before Bedtime

 

Muscle relaxants are often prescribed to people suffering from muscle spasms and pain. They work by forcing muscles to relax rather than remain constricted. The downside to muscle relaxants is that they affect all muscles, including the upper respiratory muscles. Therefore, taking them before bedtime can worsen sleep apnea.

 

Sleep apnea is more than just a nuisance; it’s a serious disorder that can lower a person’s quality of life. By making the right lifestyle changes, however, individuals can minimize the effects of sleep apnea.