Can You Die From Sleep Apnea

Updated October, 2020
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Sleep apnea can lead to death, but probably not in the way that you think. Deaths as a result of sleep apnea generally occur from coronary conditions caused by the disorder. Many famous people have died from health complications resulting from sleep apnea, such as Carrie Fisher and Jerry Garcia.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common nighttime ailment that inhibits your body's ability to breathe. The most notable side effect the indicates sleep apnea is an issue is loud snoring. There are two major types of sleep apnea.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea - Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and is linked to physiological sources.
  • Central sleep apnea - Central sleep apnea occurs when the nervous system doesn't deliver signals letting the body know it needs to breathe.

These two variants of sleep apnea aren't mutually exclusive. In some cases, both types occur at the same time, which leads to more health complications.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Booming snoring
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Decreased sex drive

While sleep apnea can be dangerous, generally, the major complication stems from other diseases it causes. Thankfully, you can eliminate this health risk from your life by seeking diagnosis and treatment from your doctor.

When does sleep apnea become serious?

No matter what stage your sleep apnea is in, it should always be treated as a serious condition. The classification of sleep apnea into mild, moderate, and severe categories downplays the severity of the issue. It's important to understand each level of sleep apnea, so you know how high your risks are for life-threatening issues.

Mild sleep apnea

• Prevalent snoring

• Hypersomnia

• Morning headaches

Moderate sleep apnea

• Abnormal bathroom trips

• Increased irritability

• Comments from your partner regarding snoring

Severe sleep apnea

• Long gaps without breathing

• Snoring that wakes everyone in the house

• Serious health issues

What are the consequences of ignoring my sleep apnea?

The consequences of ignoring your sleep apnea can be severe. Sleep apnea itself is generally not the direct cause of death, but secondary health effects have caused death.

Has anyone ever died from sleep apnea?

While sleep apnea itself isn't a direct killer, there are many deaths associated with heart disease it has caused.

This list contains prolific names such as:

  • Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
  • Reggie White (NFL Player)
  • Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)

How many people die from sleep apnea?

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, just shy of 40,000 people die annually from heart disease as a result of sleep apnea.

Can you die in your sleep from sleep apnea?

Typically deaths associated with sleep apnea are not a direct result of the disorder. However, sleep apnea can cause heart attacks and strokes which are very likely to kill you in your sleep.

Sleep apnea risk factors

Risk factors for sleep apnea come in two forms. First are genetic related factors which are outside of your control, followed by habits and lifestyle choices.

These risks include:

  • Smoking
  • Illicit drug use
  • Poor physical fitness

What are ways I can treat my sleep apnea?

If your genetics make you susceptible to sleep apnea then it's critical to incorporate lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.

Examples that will help prevent sleep apnea are:

  • Daily Exercise
  • Don’t drink before bed
  • Commit to quitting smoking

You can also mitigate your risk of sleep apnea by controlling your sleep environment. For example, utilizing a humidifier or sleeping at a slightly elevated temperature have shown results in reducing sleep apnea.

Can you cure your sleep apnea with a new mattress?

The short answer is no; a new mattress can't cure your sleep apnea. The good news? It can help—a lot.

One of the most overlooked changes you can make toward improving your sleep apnea continues to be a new, hypoallergenic mattress (with an adjustable base to elevate your body; like a Saatva). A new mattress not only can help you breath better, but it serves to create more relaxed, conducive sleep environment.

Devices, surgery, better eating, and a healthier lifestyle all contribute toward improving your sleep apnea. But if you have the money and your mattress's lifespan is teetering on 7+ years, we recommend replacing it.

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