Can My Sleep Apnea Get Worse in the Winter?
Sleep apnea is a serious health issue that often goes undiagnosed. Your partner may hear you snoring loudly but not realize that you’re actually gasping for air many times throughout the night. This is especially true during winter months when sleep apnea can worsen.
In this blog, the doctors of Boston Center for Oral Health will explain more about this disorder, effective sleep apnea treatments, and why cold weather may make your symptoms worse.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common yet serious sleep disorder that’s characterized by pauses in breathing while you sleep. This can happen repeatedly, and you may not even be aware of it since you probably don’t fully awaken when this occurs.
You may make a choking or snoring sound when your body tries to take in more air. As this repeats itself – possibly hundreds of times a night – your brain and the rest of your body don’t get enough oxygen. You may not spend enough time in deep, restorative sleep, so you’re not getting the rest you need.
Anyone can have sleep apnea – even children – but you’re at a higher risk if you’re male, over 40, and/or are overweight. You can also have an increased risk if you have nasal congestion or obstruction caused by issues such as a deviated septum or allergies.
What are the symptoms?
The most obvious symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, gasping, or choking sounds during sleep and feelings of extreme sleepiness during the day, which can make you more likely to be in a workplace or vehicle accident. However, symptoms can be widespread and may also include the following:
- A sore or dry throat when you wake up
- Morning headaches
- Trouble falling asleep
- Awakening frequently at night
- Restless sleep
- Problems with concentration
- Learning and memory problems
- Moodiness and irritability
- Irregular heartbeat
Sleep apnea can also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, any of which can have serious long-term effects on your health.
Does sleep apnea get worse in the winter?
An extensive, long-term study conducted in a sleep clinic in Brazil indicates that sleep apnea can get worse during winter months. Researchers looked at sleep study information for more than 7,500 patients over a 10-year period.
Patients in winter months had more nighttime stoppages in breathing when compared to patients who sought treatment in warmer months. Patients stopped breathing 18 times an hour on average in colder months compared to 15 times an hour in warmer months. In addition, 34 percent of patients who sought treatment in cold weather had severe sleep apnea, while only 28 percent of patients in warmer weather did.
The difference could be due to a variety of reasons, including the fact that winter-related illnesses can affect the upper airway and make sleep apnea symptoms worse, and breathing in smoke from burning wood in fireplaces could also worsen symptoms.
Where can I find effects sleep apnea treatments?
The doctors at Boston Center for Oral Health have extensive experience in helping patients with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Dr. Carmine Morreale is a graduate of the Dental Sleep Medicine residency at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and is committed to diagnosing the underlying causes of sleep apnea and providing effective sleep apnea treatments.
We’ll advise lifestyle changes – such as stopping smoking and the use of sleep aids – that may help and can also offer other sleep apnea treatments such as custom-made oral appliances.
If you have any symptoms of sleep apnea, make an appointment with Boston Center for Oral Health today. We’ll work with you to find sleep apnea treatments that will help you sleep better, feel better, and improve your overall health.