Sleep apnea treatment is very successful. The big problem with sleep apnea is diagnosis. With more than 80% of sleep apnea sufferers undiagnosed, there are many people who are suffering from this potentially fatal condition that just don’t know they have it. To help identify these people, we have to be on the lookout for everyday signs that could clue us in to the presence of sleep apnea. Caffeine use, and especially consumption of soda in the afternoon, is a strong indicator of sleep apnea risk.
Why Caffeine Use Could Be a Sign of Sleep Apnea
People in the US use caffeine on a daily basis, and often multiple times over the course of the day. It’s a wake-up aid, a focus aid, and a counter to sleepiness during the course of the day. These three common reasons why people consume caffeine are strongly associated with sleep apnea.
People with sleep apnea tend to wake up feeling unrested in the morning. Sleep apnea makes it hard for people to focus during the day, and sleep apnea sufferers are more likely to fall asleep during the day. As a result, your daily caffeine routine could be a good indicator that you have sleep apnea and are trying to mask the symptoms. Although many people simply enjoy caffeinated beverages, others actually need them just to remain functional. People who need caffeine to stay functional probably have some degree of sleep apnea.
Studying the Link between Caffeine and Sleep Apnea
A study of caffeine use and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB, a combination of snoring and sleep apnea) showed that caffeine use was more likely in people with SDB. For women, an association between SDB and caffeine intake was seen for coffee, tea, and caffeinated soda. The association with caffeinated soda was especially strong, and women with SDB were 73% more likely to consume caffeinated soda. For men, the associations were weaker, and only the link with caffeinated soda was statistically significant.
For both men and women, the consumption of caffeinated soda has the strongest association with sleep apnea. Why? Coffee and tea consumption are more ritualized and social. People drink coffee or tea in the morning just as a matter of course, so they’re less likely doing it because they need it. Soda consumption, on the other hand, might be more spontaneous: people seek it out because they need their afternoon “jolt.”
Another possibility is soda’s causative role in obesity. Regular soda contains many empty calories, contributing to weight gain. Even diet soda is associated with increased weight. And obesity is a major cause of sleep apnea.
Whatever the cause, this is a warning sign people should be on the lookout for.
If your caffeine habits make you think you might have sleep apnea, we can help. Please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a sleep dentist at Strober Dental.