Obstructive Sleep Apnea: 7 Factors That Can Make It Worse

September 2, 2023
Exhausted woman sitting in her bed

If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you are likely looking for ways to reduce your symptoms. One important step you can take is to learn what can worsen your condition. By keeping such issues under control, you may find that the quality of your sleep improves. What factors should you be aware of? This blog post explains seven.

Your Weight

Obesity is strongly associated with OSA. That is because excess weight can place pressure on your airway, making it more likely to collapse during sleep. Fortunately, even modest weight loss could reduce your symptoms; your primary care physician may be able to provide nutrition tips to help you slim down a bit.


Alcohol can relax muscles throughout your body, including the ones in your airway. Therefore, it is strongly associated with snoring and sleep apnea. It is best to avoid alcohol during the last few hours before bedtime.

Your Sleep Position

If you sleep on your back, gravity is working against you. It can pull the tissues in your throat downward, giving them the opportunity to obstruct your breathing. It is best to sleep on your side. Alternatively, you could sleep at a slight incline.


When women reach menopause, they go through significant hormonal changes. Unfortunately, they can lose muscle definition in their throat, increasing the risk of sleep apnea. While there is nothing you can do to prevent menopause, you should stay in touch with your doctor to learn how you can manage this transitional phase of your life.


Some medications, such as muscle relaxants and some painkillers, may cause the muscles in your airway to over-relax and cause blockages in breathing. If you believe that any of your prescriptions are affecting the quality of your sleep, talk to your primary care provider.


Diabetes can lead to neuropathy, which may affect your respiratory control. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you should work closely with your doctor to manage your condition to the extent possible.

The Aging Process

OSA is more common among seniors because it is natural to lose some muscle tone as the decades pass. While you cannot stop time from moving forward, you can do your best to manage your overall health.

Combine Lifestyle Changes with Professional Treatment

Some of the above factors are beyond your control, but something that you can control is the decision to seek treatment. Combining professional therapy, such as the use of an oral appliance from a dentist, with lifestyle changes is often the best way to drastically reduce or even eliminate symptoms of OSA. Hopefully, your good choices will soon reward you with better sleep every night!

Meet Dr. Mogell

Dr. Kenneth Mogell is double board-certified in dental sleep medicine. For more than a decade, he has helped patients find better rest through the use of oral appliance therapy. To learn if he may be able to move you toward better sleep and improved health, use our website to reach out to any of our offices, or call our Boca Raton location at 561-353-5252.