Sleep Medicine

Asthma & Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder where the airway slackens during sleep and closes during sleep. Normally, the muscle tone that supports the airway relaxes during sleep to a slight degree. This process becomes problematic when the relaxation of the airway narrows the breathing passage so much, that it makes breathing difficult. The airway becomes so restricted that the brain senses this difficulty and increases the breathing effort. Eventually, the increased effort awakens the brain to stimulate the relaxed muscles and reopens the breathing passage. This process becomes repetitive throughout the night and disrupts the sleep causing daytime sleepiness symptoms.

Common Asthma Triggers

  • Exercise
  • Emotions
  • Pollution
  • Allergies
  • Smoke
  • Infections

Sleep apnea is a disorder where the airway slackens during sleep and closes during sleep. Normally, the muscle tone that supports the airway relaxes during sleep to a slight degree. This process becomes problematic when the relaxation of the airway narrows the breathing passage so much, that it makes breathing difficult. The airway becomes so restricted that the brain senses this difficulty and increases the breathing effort. Eventually, the increased effort awakens the brain to stimulate the relaxed muscles and reopens the breathing passage. This process becomes repetitive throughout the night and disrupts the sleep causing daytime sleepiness symptoms.

Sleep Apnea Complaints

  • Loud snoring
  • Often feeling tired and fatigue
  • Choking and gasping for air or breathing pauses
  • Trouble with concentration and memory
  • Morning headaches
  • Falling asleep inappropriately

Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart Failure
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Depression
  • Diabetes

When a person has both asthma and sleep apnea the combination can intensify these illnesses. Nocturnal asthma can be triggered by decreased lung function, increased airway swelling, and reflux. Sleep apnea is a closing of the airway and it can trigger these same responses. After the apnea event the closed airway is sent a signal to reopen. When the muscles of the airway begin to open friction in the airway causes swelling to the airway tissue. Asthmatics have sensitive airways that become irritated by the fiction and begin the chain reaction creating more inflammation, swelling, mucus production, decreased lung function, and the viscous cycle compounds. The more irritated the airway becomes the more significant the narrowing of the airway. This causes the airway to collapse more easily and the sleep apnea is amplified. These two breathing disorders when combined have a powerful negative effect on when untreated. Identifying and treating these breathing disorders can greatly improve one's sleep, breathing, and reduce the medical consequences to the sufferer.

Talk to your doctor if you have these signs & symptoms.

Featured Updates

5 bedtime yoga poses to get better sleep

SEP 07, 2021

Yoga nidra, or sleep yoga, is great to practice before bed to help alleviate stress and lead to better sleep

Read More Additional information about 5 Bedtime Yoga Poses To Get Better Sleep

Everything you need to know about boosting your immunity for fall 2021

SEP 03, 2021

After the break on our immune systems during the COVID-19 lockdowns, here’s our guide on how to prevent your chances of feeling under the weather this fall.

Read More Additional information about Everything you need to know about boosting your immunity this fall

Find a Doctor


Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.