Stop Smoking and Sleep Better

Is smoking bad for your health? Yes, it is. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 30 percent of all cancer deaths are caused by cigarette smoking. Smoking also contributes to diabetes and respiratory health problems. It can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular issues, including heart disease and stroke. But what about when it comes to sleep apnea?

What Is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that occurs when a person stops breathing during sleep. This happens because the muscles in the back of the throat relax and block air from entering the lungs. As a result, oxygen levels in the blood drop, which causes fatigue and drowsiness. People with sleep apnea may make loud snoring or gasping sounds while they’re sleeping. They also might experience daytime sleepiness and feel tired after waking up.

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Health?

People who suffer from sleep apnea often experience chronic and sometimes serious health conditions as a result of their sleep breathing disorder. These include:

Heart Disease. Sleep apnea increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, people with untreated sleep apnea are at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke than those with diabetes.

High Blood Pressure. Sleep apnea makes high blood pressure worse. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure).

Depression. Sleep apnea has been linked to depression. Studies show that people with sleep apnea tend to be depressed. If left untreated, sleep apnea can also cause irritability, anxiety, anger and confusion.

Diabetes. Sleep apnea can make type 2 diabetes worse. This is because lack of oxygen during sleep can cause insulin resistance, which leads to higher blood sugar levels.

Cancer. Sleep apnea increases your risk of getting certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Stroke. Sleep apnea increases stroke risk. People with sleep apnea are twice as likely to have a stroke compared to people without this condition.

Other Conditions. Sleep apnea can worsen other medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma and arthritis. In addition, people with sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from:

  • Memory loss
  • Impotence 
  • Weight gain 
  • Fatigue

If you look at this list of the effects caused by sleep apnea, you may note that many of them are the same effects of smoking. 

Can Smoking Worsen Your Sleep Apnea? 

Yes, smoking can worsen sleep apnea. 

A 2019 study published by Advances in Respiratory Medicine revealed that smokers were more likely to have significantly more severe sleep apnea as well as lower blood oxygen saturation levels during sleep. This is especially dangerous as sleep apnea sufferers already deal with lower blood oxygen levels and stress on the body as a result of their condition. 

Smoking can also irritate the upper airway, causing swelling, which can complicate breathing during sleep and contribute to more frequent or more severe breathing interruptions. Nicotine also stimulates the muscles of the upper airway, making regular breathing difficult.

Smokers also have higher daytime sleepiness and feelings of unrest. And smokers who live with sleep apnea frequently experience headaches, anxiety and irritability more often than individuals who have sleep apnea but don’t smoke. 

Smoking Also Triggers Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Kids

Children who have been exposed to cigarette smoke exhibit increased rates of sleep-disordered breathing. They also experience other issues such as tiredness, irritability and concentration problems.

The researchers on the 2019 study in Advances in Respiratory Medicine concluded that “children and infants exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke should undergo screening for OSA.” 

Should You Quit Smoking if You Have Sleep Apnea? 

The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, it’s recommended that all patients diagnosed with sleep apnea quit smoking immediately. The reason is simple: Quitting smoking will help improve your sleep quality and reduce the severity of your sleep apnea. 

How to Stop Smoking and Get a Better Night’s Sleep

There are several ways you can stop smoking and get better sleep.  

Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy has been proven effective in helping people quit smoking. It works because hypnosis helps you relax, focus and feel calm. When you’re relaxed, you won’t be so easily distracted by things like cravings and urges to smoke.

Step-Down Lozenges. These lozenges contain nicotine and caffeine, which work together to make you less sensitive to cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Step-down lozenges are available over the counter at most pharmacies.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). NRT products include patches, gums and inhalers. These products deliver nicotine into your system without actually delivering any tar or carbon monoxide to your lungs. NRT products are not addictive and usually don’t cause side effects.

Prescription Medication. There are some prescriptions available to help you stop smoking. Some medications can help you control your urge to smoke, and others may help you stay away from cigarettes altogether. Your doctor will determine which medication is best for you based on your individual needs.

Lifestyle Changes. If you’ve tried everything else and still find yourself struggling to kick the habit, lifestyle changes might be just what you need. For example, you could try exercising regularly, eating healthier foods and cutting back on alcohol consumption.

Are you a smoker and living with sleep apnea? Call us now to schedule a consultation to talk about quitting smoking and how we can help your sleep apnea today.