Q:

Can sleep apnea cycle in severity?

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Quick Answer

Sleep apnea can cycle in severity over the course of a single night, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. Individuals are more likely to suffer from severe sleep apnea while deeply asleep. It can also cycle in severity during your lifetime depending on risk factors including weight, alcohol use or smoking.

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According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep apnea is usually caused by the body relaxing too much while deeply asleep. This results in airways becoming blocked by the tongue or becoming too narrow to breathe properly, causing snoring, difficulty breathing and wakefulness throughout the night. Sleep apnea often cycles in severity with the REM cycle: the more deeply asleep, the more the body relaxes and the more severe the obstruction becomes.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke outlines several risk factors that can affect the severity of your sleep apnea over the course of your lifetime. Overweight people are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, so losing weight can cause symptoms to become less severe. Smoking obstructs airways, so smokers make experience more severe symptoms.

Consuming alcohol, especially before bed, causes the body to relax. If one goes through a period of heavy drinking, he may experience cycles of worse sleep apnea, as his muscles become too relaxed to allow him to breathe properly, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Cutting back on alcohol use helps lead to cycles of less severe symptoms.

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