Causes Of Sleep Apnea


The most common type of sleep apnea (obstructive sleep apnea) is caused by a blockage or even by a narrowed airway in the throat or oral area. During sleep, the muscles of the throat or tongue relax to such a degree that they cause a blockage in the airway.

For a certain period of time breathing stops and the amount of oxygen in the blood is reduced.

Moreover, people who have enlarged tissues, such as enlarged tonsils, in their oral area are also prone to sleep apnea. During sleep, the tonsils push the airway, which causes the airway to narrow.

However, there are also other causes and risk factors for sleep apnea:

  • Being overweight. People who suffer from obesity have an increased chance of suffering from sleep apnea. Fatty cells are known to narrow the airway. If your sleep apnea is caused by obesity, consider the fact that there is an interplay between these two conditions, as a person who is tired tends to be less active. This in itself causes obesity.
  • Alcohol or any other substance abuse. Alcohol and other drugs influence the brain, which stimulates respiration. This may cause relaxed breathing muscles and a blockage of the airways.
  • Mouth breathing. Breathing through one’s mouth may lead to certain structural abnormalities in the facial area. This may contribute to sleep apnea.
  • Medication. Certain medication which is used for emotional purposes is known to relax breathing muscles. Check with your doctor if you are taking any medication for allergies, depression or anxiety and have sleep apnea.
  • Asthma. Asthma is a potential cause of sleep apnea. Asthma cramps the airway, which may result in a blockage of the throat.
  • Acid reflux. Severe cases of acid reflux can cause heavy scar tissue in the throat. This repetitive scaring can cause obstructions in the airways.
  • Among these causes are also smoking, stress and bad body posture. Often sleep apnea will dissapear if the patient makes a few lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and alcohol and losing weight.

Be sure to read the other articles on this site to learn more about the various sleep apnea treatments available.

Alternate spelling: sleep apnoea | Common misspellings: sleep apnia, sleep apena, sleep apneia


Joe from Breathalysers

“Mouth breathing. Breathing through one’s mouth may lead to certain structural abnormalities in the facial area. This may contribute to sleep apnea.”

Are you serious? How can breathing through your mouth cause structural abnormalities in the face? Considering that’s how we all breath I find this hard to comprehend.

Natural Anxiety Remedies

I think acid reflux and being overweight are the main causes of Sleep Apnea. You should write more about preventing it.

Sweet Dreams from Denver Mattress

As your article notes, sleep apnea is a dangerous condition. It impairs all the benefits gained from sleeping for a full eight hours on a great mattress. In our Denver mattress showroom, we have had several customers come in with sleep apnea indicating that they just wanted to be able to feel rested when they awoke. Thanks for taking time to write about this prevalent condition.

Charles from Mattress Maven

Good article - alcohol is often misunderstood in that people think it helps them sleep but in actual fact it just helps them get to sleep, but the sleep itself ends up being much more disrupted and shallow.

One extra cause of sleep apnea is mattresses. It is surprising how many people don’t renew their mattresses for years and years and end up suffering from poor quality sleep.

jd from paper folder

My dad has sleep apnea, but I’ve never really learned very much about it and what causes it. He does have acid reflux, so maybe that has contributed to it. I have it, too. I hope I don’t get sleep apnea because I don’t know if I could ever get used to wearing the mask and being hooked up to a machine while I sleep.

Simon from Leadership

Its funny what when you look at some of the causes - overweight, obesity - its no surprise that this is common in the States.

Jack from Alcohol Rehab Center

Sadly enough sleep apnea is treated more like a source of embarrassment than a medical condition. Its time people wake up to its causes and work on solving them.

Charles from Snoring Aids

I think being overweight is probably the biggest cause of this. If you go back a generation the problem of sleep apnea was relatively unknown. If you look today a lot of people are snoring and a lot of people are having other sleeping patterns. The only thing that really makes sense is people having more fat on their body, which creates pressure.

Debbie from Air Mattress Queen

I had a brother that “died in his sleep” at 50 years old due to a heart attack brought on by sleep apnea related complications.

My brother wore “the mask” at night religiously when he slept. However, after my sister in law asked him to leave for a few days following a big disagreement, he moved in with my sister.

Unfortunately he did not pack his mask and 2 days later my sister found him in the morning.

If you have a mask please wear it.

szeny from acid reflux causes

If you are having problems getting to sleep knowing how you slumber or recognizing the mechanics behind what produces a good night’s rest could help you figure out the issue of what is keeping you conscious.

Nicky from Narconon

“However, there are also other causes and risk factors for sleep apnea:” this is so typical for the medical profession. They find EVERY DAY new illnesses and so called disorders out of the blue. And they do not know what it causes and of course they cannot heal it at all. They only prescribe drugs which are not helping. They only cause side effects and you are winding up in a devil circuit.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea 

What a great blog.To stop snoring it is best to adopt a multi-pronged approach by addressing each factor in your quest for snore relief. Excess body weight, too much alcohol drinking, deviated septum, chronic nasal congestion are some of the common reasons why people snore

James from Sleep Apnea Mouthpiece

Weight and an unhealthy diet are obvious issues, as is smoking and alcohol excess. Mouth breathing and laying on ones back are also situations that can be easily adjusted, either with a sleep apnea pillow and / or a chin strap. There are quite a few solutions to look at before going down the CPAP route.

naz from beds

I knew some one who had been suffering from sleep apnea. She didnt suffer from the major risk factors mentioned here but mainly suffered due to heavy stress during a very difficult time in her life.

Rudy Shaw from IBS Diet

Following a strict diet plan, that is low-fat and low-starch based can help reduce apnea symptoms. Something as simple and basic as stopping caffeine intake will help you get a sound sleep.

Previous post:

Next post: