One of the biggest problems with sleep apnea is that probably more than 80% of sufferers are undiagnosed. To help us improve our ability to detect and diagnose sleep apnea sufferers, we need to keep our eyes open for signs that could clue us into people who may have sleep apnea but don’t know it. Turns out that caffeine is one of those signs. 

Why Caffeine Use Could Be a Sign of Sleep Apnea

The most common stimulant in the US is caffeine. Many people use it on a daily basis to help themselves get up in the morning, stay focused on work during the day, and combat sleepiness while at work. The thing is, those three problems and many similar ones are actually symptoms of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea wake up feeling unrested, have difficulty staying focused on tasks, and often feel sleepy throughout the course of the day. Caffeine and sleep apnea go hand in hand, otherwise you will doze off even more during the day.

This means that if you find yourself leaning on caffeine to help with any of those problems, it’s quite possible that you’re really masking your sleep apnea symptoms. It’s one thing to enjoy a cuppa joe or an afternoon tea, but it’s another thing entirely to actually need them to function. If you’re in the latter camp, maybe you should talk to a sleep doctor or dentist about your sleep apnea.

A Connection Between Caffeine and Sleep Apnea

The association between caffeine and sleep apnea is more than just theoretical. It’s been confirmed in at least one study. This study looked at the relationship between sleep disordered breathing (a term that includes both sleep apnea and snoring) and caffeine intake in terms of caffeinated sodas, coffee, and tea. Women with severe sleep disordered breathing were 75% more likely to consume caffeinated soda. The association was also seen for men, but it was weaker. However, sleep disordered breathing did not have an association with increased coffee or tea intake.

Soda intake might be more associated with sleep disordered breathing because people are more likely to consume sodas in the afternoon because they are continuing to suffer from sleepiness, while coffee and tea are more likely to be enjoyed in the morning or socially. It may also be because people who drink more soda are more likely to be obese.

Why You Should Quit Caffeine

If you suffer from sleep apnea and have a caffeine consumption habit, one of the first things you should do at the start of your sleep apnea treatment is cut out caffeine. We recommend starting slowly and then gradually cut down on your daily intake until you’re no longer consuming anymore. This will help you avoid headaches.

Cutting down or cutting out caffeine when you have sleep apnea can bring you a number of benefits. First, it can help you break your endless cycle of exhaustion. Not only will sleep apnea treatment helps you start sleeping better at night but cutting down on caffeine will too. Caffeine can affect your sleep cycle and thus contribute to feeling tired the next day. Caffeine has a six-hour-half-life, meaning it stays in your body for up to 24 hours. The more you consume throughout the day, the more that’s still in your body when you go to bed. If you consume it too close to bedtime, it can cost you at least an hour of sleep.

Cutting down on caffeine can also help lower your blood pressure–another common side effect of sleep apnea. With sleep apnea treatment and caffeine reduction, you can likely lower your blood pressure to a healthy level again. 

Reducing caffeine intake can also improve your mood–another side effect that also improves with sleep apnea treatment. Lastly, reducing caffeine consumption can reduce your waistline if your main source of caffeine is with high-calorie drinks.

If you find yourself unable to function during the day without the help of caffeine or other anti-sleepiness aids, you should talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. For help finding a sleep doctor or finding the right sleep apnea treatment, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.