JUST BREATHE: No, there are no magic pills for sleep apnea, and some magic pills just make it worse

Sorry, I cannot provide you a link to purchase these for your sleep apnea because they don’t exist.

It would be so nice to just pop a pill and be done with sleep apnea, right? Except that because sleep apnea (the obstructive variety, anyway) is an issue of physiological mechanics, no pill can fix that.

(Not sure what sleep apnea is? Check out this great 3-minute video to learn how to differentiate snoring from sleep apnea.)

So there aren’t any magic pills for OSA. Fine, you say. But wait! There are still plenty of drugs that can actually aggravate OSA (whether you have been diagnosed or not). This goes for all kinds of sleep disordered breathing, not just apnea.

Alcohol–Can’t share this one enough. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but you will always have a withdrawal effect a couple of hours later, after you metabolize your nightcap, which disrupts the remainder of your sleep all night. On top of that, it relaxes the airway structures in a way that encourages them to collapse.

Muscle relaxants–Makes sense, right? You have soft tissues in your airway but you also have muscles there, too. The muscles help keep the soft tissues from collapsing. Relax those muscles and you have more chances to develop an obstructed airway when you’re asleep.

Sedatives–Sleep medications play a lot of tricks on your brain to get it to fall into a sleep-like state. One of the problems with sedatives is that they interfere with the neurochemical messages that your brain processes with relation to your blood’s oxygen/carbon dioxide balance. Your brain normally startles you awake so that you take a breath when that imbalance hits a certain threshold. If you are taking sedatives, it will take longer for your brain and lungs to work together to avoid this depression of the respiratory system. The result will be more apneas; if you already have OSA, the result will be more severe apneas.

Cigarettes–So maybe a smoke relaxes you at bedtime. What’s the harm? It also introduces irritants into the airway which cause the tissues there to swell in response, creating obstruction.

About Tamara Kaye Sellman (621 Articles)

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