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Can Stress Cause Central Sleep Apnea

Does Anxiety Cause Sleep Apnea

Can stress or anxiety cause sleep apnea?

OSA is a common cause of anxiety, but we cant be 100% sure that anxiety causes sleep apnea or not. Most researchers come to the point that stress can disturb good sleep which can eventually aggravate sleep apnea. Still, its important to note that while anxiety and sleep apnea often go together, one doesnt necessarily cause the other. However, even a basic correlation between anxiety and sleep apnea, you can see people who are anxious by nature suffer sleep deprivation.

Reducing Stress During A Pandemic To Ensure A Good Nights Sleep

Without certainty as to when the pandemic will be over, its imperative to reduce stress to improve your sleep apnea. Heres how:

Identify Stressors

The first step should be to identify what is causing you stress, and from there, you can take steps to reduce it.

Do Not Be Afraid to Say No

Perhaps your stress stems from your inability to say no. For your well-being, its essential to learn to say no, especially when youre overwhelmed. Dont say yes to things even if it seems like you should. Learn to take time for yourself.

Get Support

Close family and friends can offer support that will go a long way in reducing your stress levels. If youre feeling overwhelmed, consider talking to a therapist about the stress you are experiencing. Not only are they are a great resource, but they can provide you with exercises to help you feel less stressed out and other resources.

Exercise Moderately and Routinely

Frequently exercising loosens tight muscles and at the same time induces the release of endorphins, which are mood-boosting hormones, leading to lower stress levels. If you dont love working out, even a brisk walk around the block is a great place to start when youre feeling overwhelmed by the world around you.

Iron Out Personal Conflicts

As much as quarantine has enabled people to spend more time together, it has also put a strain on so many relationships. Learning how to resolve conflicts as they arise amicably is crucial.

Control Your Workload

See a Sleep Apnea Specialist

Stress Among Medical Workers

This new study is focused on the stress of nurses and other medical workers in Wuhan province while treating COVID-19 patients. Researchers had 30 members of the medical and nursing staff with insomnia symptoms wear pulse oximeters. The workers were also given questionnaires to evaluate their insomnia and their levels of stress and other mental health challenges. Previous studies have shown that medical workers in Wuhan experienced high levels of stress while treating COVID-19 patients, and this study showed similar stress levels.

In addition, researchers were able to show nearly 40% of the participants had moderate to severe sleep apnea, as flagged by drops in oxygen saturation during sleep, occurring at least 15 times an hour.

Statistical analysis showed that sleep apnea was significantly associated with both insomnia and high levels of stress. They found that high stress levels were associated with a 50% higher risk of sleep apnea.

In their conclusion, researchers stated, Medical and nursing staff with insomnia showed clear signs of comorbid sleep apnoea attributable to stress.

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Will Sleep Apnea Go Away Without Treatment

Learning about your sleep apnea treatment is your next step after being diagnosed with this fairly common sleeping condition. According to Hopkins Medicine, its important to treat sleep apnea, because it can have long-term consequences for your health. Ready to find out more about why treating this condition is so important to your overall health?

Sleep Apnea And Insulin Resistance

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Because of the association between inflammation and insulin resistance, a condition of increased insulin levels associated with normoglycemia , we examined whether OSA acts as an independent risk factor for insulin resistance. We evaluated 14 obese men with symptomatic sleep apnea versus 11 BMI- and age-matched, obese, non-apneic controls . Mean fasting blood glucose levels were higher in the apneics than in obese controls . Mean plasma insulin levels were also higher in sleep apneics than in obese controls .

Our findings were confirmed by three relatively large studies: 1) a sleep center population in Hong Kong 2) a community-based sample in the Baltimore area and 3) most recently, in a large sample from the Sleep Heart Health Study . Importantly, one study observed that the association between OSA and insulin resistance was present even in non obese subjects , whereas the other study reported insulin resistance even in mild forms of sleep apnea .

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Sleep Apnea And Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is closely associated with insulin resistance and insulin resistance is associated with sleep apnea independently of obesity. Waist circumference is a better predictor of OSA than BMI . In a study we examined whether sleep apnea correlates with visceral, subcutaneous or total fat by using computed tomographic scanning to asses body fat distribution . Male patients with OSA had a greater amount of CT-determined visceral adipose tissue into the abdomen than a group of BMI-matched men without SDB . Interestingly, BMI correlated significantly with total body fat and SC fat , but not with visceral fat. Importantly, visceral, but not SC fat, was significantly correlated with indices of sleep apnea . Our findings are consistent with reports that visceral fat accumulation is an important risk factor for OSA in obese subjects , and the AHI is significantly correlated with intra-abdominal fat but not with subcutaneous fat in the neck region or parapharyngeal fat .

Visceral fat significantly correlated with indexes of sleep apnoea. sleep apnoeics obese controls.

A model of the complex feed forward associations between visceral fat/insulin resistance, inflammatory cytokines, stress hormones, excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep apnoea.

How Can You Tell If You Have Sleep Apnea

If your symptoms line up and you or your doctor suspect you may have OSA or CSA, your doctor will likely refer you to a sleep specialist or recommend that you spend a night in a sleep clinic, during which time your breathing and other bodily functions will be evaluated by a nocturnal polysomnography. This test monitors your heart, breathing patterns, limb movements, lung and brain activity, and blood oxygen levels while you are asleep.

Or your doctor may provide an at-home sleep test, which measures your heart rate, airflow, and breathing patterns. These tests are generally less conclusive than tests in a sleep disorder center. Obstructive apnea can also be diagnosed by an ear, nose and throat doctor, who will look for blockages in your nose and throat. Because cardiovascular issues are sometimes at the root of central sleep apnea, CSA is sometimes treated by cardiologists.

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Central Sleep Apnea Happens When The Brain Is Involved

Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. It can also be trickier to diagnose and treat. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a mechanical problem that blocks the airway, central sleep apnea occurs because the brain is not sending the proper messages to the muscles that control breathing. Central sleep apnea is caused by a neurological reason, explains Dr. Capasso.

Sleep Apnea And Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Treatment

Does CPAP Cause Central Apneas? CPAP Induced Central Sleep Apnea. Interpret Sleep

CPAP is the treatment of choice, especially in moderate to severe OSA, with proven efficacy on daytime sleepiness and high blood pressure . Randomized trials have shown benefit in severe OSA in subjective sleepiness, objective tests of sleepiness, quality of life, driving performance, and depression scores . On the other hand no benefits of therapy were observed in severe OSA if subjects were not sleepy . In mild to moderate disease, CPAP ameliorated only nighttime symptoms in all studies , whereas in most studies subjective sleepiness did not change .

The effects of CPAP on the metabolic alterations associated with OSA have not been studied systematically, and the results are inconsistent . No improvement in insulin sensitivity was observed in 9 studies. The beneficial effect confirmed in one study, was observed primarily in non-obese patients with OSA . Also, in non-obese patients with OSA, visceral fat decreased after 6 months of CPAP use, even without change in BMI .

Inconsistent were also the results on the effects of CPAP on inflammation. A significant decrease in TNFa was reported after the use of CPAP . IL-6 increased in one study and decreased in another study after the use of CPAP .

Studies to date have primarily evaluated short-term outcomes of CPAP use, typically 1 to 2 months, in both obese and non-obese patients with OSA.

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Sleep Meditation For Stress

Meditation for stress relief can help with reducing sleep apnea stress and insomnia due to chronic stress. If stress is keeping you awake and affecting your sleep, sleep meditation for stress can help.

Mindfulness is important. Shortly before bedtime, try a relaxation strategy that incorporates mindfulness, such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. All of these methods can increase your sleep time and quality.

Drinking tea can also help reduce stress. Taking a hot bath or shower is also very relaxing and the warmth may help to induce sleepiness.

Six Facts About Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common and serious sleep disorder that repeatedly causes you to stop breathing during sleep. Warning signs include loud snoring and gasping or choking sounds as you sleep.

Chances are, sleep apnea will impact your life in one way another. It may affect you, your bedpartner, or another family member. Here are six facts about sleep apnea to keep in mind.

1. There are two types of sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is most common. It occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. You try to breathe but cant. Central sleep apnea occurs due to instability in your bodys breathing control system. Your body stops trying to breathe during sleep.

2. Sleep apnea can occur at any age, even in infants.

Central sleep apnea can occur in infants. It may be a developmental problem or the result of another medical condition. More common is pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. In children, sleep apnea is often caused by large tonsils and adenoids that block the airway during sleep.

3. Sleep apnea increases with age.

4. Sleep apnea is often undiagnosed.

It is estimated that about 23.5 million U.S. adults who have sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. Too many people fail to recognize that snoring is a warning sign for sleep apnea. One study also found that women tend to underreport snoring and underestimate its loudness. Women also may be more likely than men to report symptoms such as fatigue or insomnia.

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What Are The Effects Of Sleep Apnea

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health problems including hypertension, stroke, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy , heart failure, diabetes, obesity and heart attacks.

Its likely that sleep apnea can cause arrhythmias and heart failure because if you have sleep apnea, you tend to have higher blood pressure. In fact, sleep apnea occurs in about 50% of people with heart failure or atrial fibrillation.

This is because sleep apnea can cause:

  • Repeated episodes of oxygen lowering .
  • Changes in carbon dioxide levels.
  • Direct effects on the heart due to pressure changes within the chest.
  • Increased levels of markers of inflammation.

With the high prevalence of sleep apnea in cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure , experts recommend that you dont delay in seeking the advice of your physician.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2020.


The Link Between Ptsd And Sleep Apnea

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Sleep-disordered breathing can be a sign of untreated OSA, which is associated with worse symptoms of PTSD, as well as an increased risk of heart failure, dementia, and certain cancers. Sleep-disordered breathing is present in 95% of individuals who evacuated a fire, and 91% of victims who experienced consecutive crimes.

Veterans are up to three times more likely to have PTSD. Men, who represent a larger percentage of the veteran population, are also more likely to have sleep apnea. According to one study, 69% of Vietnam veterans with PTSD also had sleep-disordered breathing.

Among the general population, the risk for sleep apnea increases with age. However, young veterans with PTSD may have an outsized risk for their age group. One study found that 69% of young Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans screened positive for OSA.

Individuals with PTSD who also experience sleep problems such as OSA are likely to experience more severe depression, a higher suicide risk, increased substance abuse, and a poorer quality of life. Individuals who develop OSA before age 70 also have an increased risk of early death.

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Sleep Apnea And The Stress System

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis mediates the reaction to acute physical and psychological stress. HPA and sleep interact in multiple ways. Sleep, in particular deep sleep, has an inhibitory influence on the HPA axis , whereas activation of the HPA axis or administration of glucocorticoids can lead to arousal and sleepiness .

According to our unpublished data cortisol levels were slightly higher in obese apneic patients, compared to obese controls, and both groups had lower plasma levels of cortisol compared to nonobese controls . In the sleep apneic patients, CPAP lowered significantly diastolic and mean blood pressure and tended to reduce cortisol levels. In another study, corticotropin-releasing hormone administration resulted in a higher corticotropin response in both obese apneic and non-apneic groups compared to non-obese controls, whereas there were no differences of cortisol response to CRH. These results suggest, that in non-distressed obese, HPA axis activity is rather low due to hyposecretion of hypothalamic CRH, whereas apnea causes a mild activation of the axis that is corrected with the use of CPAP.

Can Stress Make My Sleep Apnea Worse During The Pandemic

Posted in Sleep Apnea | March 18, 2021

The uncertainty brought about by COVID-19 has increased many peoples stress levels, which has impacted the quality of their sleep at night. For some people, this means its also exacerbated their sleep apnea.

Almost every aspect of our day-to-day life has been affected by the ongoing pandemic. Daily routines have been upended, forcing people to reimagine their schedules.

Combine that with stay-at-home orders, reduced travel, financial concerns, health anxiety, and youre looking at heightened levels of worry and stress. Also, the lack of structure coupled with being constantly bombarded with information about COVID-19 can cause your mind to go into overdrive.

When this happens, it can disrupt your sleeping patterns. Keep reading to learn if stress can make your sleep apnea worse during the pandemic!

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The Connection Between Sleep Apnea And Stress

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop then restart breathing at night frequently. This can occur as many as a hundred times or more as you sleep.

The worst part? You can do this while youre sleeping and not even know it. It is often due to the partial blocking of your airway, which obstructs the airflow.

Every break alerts your brain to send a signal that interferes with your sleep. When breathing resumes, youll usually sleep again. Every time your breathing starts back up, the cycle only repeats itself over again.

Any stressors are associated with worsening sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea and stress may be linked when it comes to your health.

How well you sleep is affected by how healthy you are. Stress affects various aspects of your emotional, mental, and physical health, including sleep.

Further, stress can make you develop unhealthy habits. This includes things like overeating, smoking, drinking, consuming excess caffeine, and not exercising.

All of these habits can intensify sleep apnea. Lockdown situations, the disruption of your daily routines, and reduced social support systems because of social distancing have led to severe problems.

This includes reduced sunlight exposure, more screen time, and less physical activity. Taking part in more of these activities can contribute to lower sleep quality and intensifying your sleep apnea.

The Sleep Apnea Connection

What Causes Sleep Apnea and How Do You Treat It?

Obstructive sleep apnea is mostly based on physical and biological factors such as family history, excess weight, and reduced airways. But stress and anxiety can also play a part in the development of OSA as well. It is possible that too much stress, anxiety, or symptoms of PTSD can cause someone to develop a type of sleep apnea. There are also other types of sleep apnea to be aware of.

Central sleep apnea is more closely related to the nervous system than obstructive sleep apnea, which is indicative of blocked airways. CSA may be triggered more often by symptoms of stress and worry as it pays a heavier toll on the nervous system.

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Sleep Apnea Stress: How Does Stress Affect Sleep

If you find that you have high levels of stress and are not getting enough sleep, you are not alone. Many of the stressors we face in our daily lives, such as conflicts in our relationships, work stress and traffic jams can trigger our stress response. We can have a fight-or-flight response, and prolonged exposure to this stress without any relaxation can result in poor quality sleep and sleep apnea stress. There are many strategies to improve sleep quality and duration and cope with chronic stress. I have personally found some of these very helpful and hopefully some may also work for you if you are dealing with stress and sleeping issues!


  • Thought diary and coping strategies
  • What Other Health Problems Can Sleep Apnea Cause

    Complications can include:

    • Daytime fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal,
    • High blood pressure or heart problems
    • Type 2 diabetes. Having sleep apnea increases your risk of developing insulin resistance
    • Metabolic syndrome. This disorder, which includes high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels,

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