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 in to 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

Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant in the US. 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.

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 was not associated 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.

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.