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Does Sleep Apnea Get Worse in the Winter?

Believe it or not, the physiology of the body is actually affected by winter changes. The cold weather impacts the respiratory system, especially in people who suffer from sleep apnea. In other words, sleep apnea will worsen during winter. Luckily, there are certain changes you can introduce to reduce the negative side effects of winter. So, read on and find out more about the connection between winter, health, and sleep apnea.

Health and Winter

Regardless of where you live, like it or not, winter will still affect your health. However, if you know how your body usually reacts to the cold weather, you will be able to take action and protect yourself from the negative effects and get enough sleep if you have sleep apnea.

Here’s a brief list of the most common side effects winter has on health:

  • Headaches are one of the most frequently experienced side effects of the cold weather.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder that affects people in the winter months due to the lack of sun and results in fatigue and depression.
  • Bad eating habits are also common during winter because the cold temperature usually makes people consume hot sugary drinks and foods high in calories.
  • Dry skin, hair, and lips are one of the most uncomfortable side effects of winter, and sometimes even painful.
  • Being the cold and flu season, winter also impacts the respiratory system resulting in difficulty breathing and sleeping, which is remarkably evident in those with sleep apnea or other respiratory issues or sleep disorders.

Sleep Apnea in Winter

As we already mentioned, sleep apnea gets even worse in the winter months which is mainly due to the dry air and increased use of fireplaces which bring smoke inside people’s homes. So, it is extremely important that sleep apnea patients take measures to ensure they get a good night’s sleep and alleviate their symptoms. Here’s what you could do to protect yourself from the negative effects of the cold temperatures:

  • Since breathing in cold air dries out the airway, ensure you cover your mouth as soon as you step outside your house.
  • Always wear several layers of clothes so that you are warm enough and remove layers in case you are too hot.
  • Ensure you breathe properly: inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Breathing through your nose is key since the nose filters the cold air.

CPAP in Winter

In general, sleep apnea patients undergo CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy which uses a device, i.e. machine, to help them breathe while asleep. And, during winter, this machine should be used and cleaned properly with extra care.

First and foremost, make sure you clean it on a daily basis. To make this process simpler and easier, you could use a special cleaning device designed for cleaning CPAP machines. Secondly, you should use a humidifier in your bedroom even though most of the CPAP machines have a humidification setting included in them.

Increasing humidity will make your condition remarkably better because the amount of mucus in your nose won’t reduce. The mucus is very important for protecting the body from germs. On the other hand, breathing cold air will dry out airways and reduce the mucus amount which is why people tend to get a cold or get sick in wintertime.

The bottom line, even though sleep apnea symptoms worsen in winter, now you can follow the above-mentioned advice and ensure you alleviate your symptoms and get enough sleep.

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