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Can anxiety and stress make sleep apnea worse?

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Old 01-12-2018, 03:10 PM   #1
Ady_P
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Default Can anxiety and stress make sleep apnea worse?

Hi, I normally post on the TBI / Concussion section

I've been a very heavy snorer since my early 20's, I never sleep through and can wake several times during the night, where my awakening frequency is made worse by any stress. I'm not obese, my neck is less than 16.5 inches, though I do have a bit of an overbite. I've previosly tried anti-snoring gumshields and slings with little success, along with sporadic attempts at throat tightening exercises.


I used to put my broken sleep down to anxiety, stress and depression preventing me from getting into deep sleep, but over the past few years I've wondered if its undiagnosed sleep apnea. I've had a few concussions in my time and suffered bad PCS after I had one in 2015. I've recently found out that sleep apnea after head injury is common, which could explain things, or I'm overthinking again due to my anxiety.


On top of this, 2017 was a brutal year in terms of stressful life events which caused stress and anxiety levels to soar and stay ramped up. Then an event happened in late Nov 2017 which appears to have triggered off PCS-like symptoms again, medical experts are saying there has been no concussion and that my anxiety and depression has gotten much worse. Since then my sleep patterns have deteriorated.


My snoring has got louder again and I'm now waking myself up with a short snore/gasp that rattles my windpipe, especially in the later part of the night. This is new and happens regardless of sleeping on my side or front. I can't even sleep on my back now for more than a few minutes before I jolt myself awake with a loud snore/grunt, which indicates apnea. In fact this "apnea-like" event seems to happen even when I'm just dozing. This is a very new physiological symptom which is causing me major concern.


Can major anxiety and prolonged stress make sleep apnea/snoring much worse?

I also noticed that my anxiety means I tend to hold my breath a lot more during the day and don't breath as often or as deep as I normally do. Can shallower breathing increase daytime CO2 concentrations in our blood which could then make night apnea more likely?

The other thing is that I've been occasionally using propranolol the last few months which slows down heart rate and presumably blood flow/oxygen content.

Last edited by Ady_P; 01-12-2018 at 03:20 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:47 AM   #2
kiwi33
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Shallow breathing, leading to a transient increase in blood CO2 levels, can make anxiety/panic attacks worse. I get them sometimes and a deep breathing exercise, for about 10 minutes or so, is usually effective.

Sleep apnea is more complex. You could get you doctor to refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. There are clinical tests for it and generally it can be treated successfully.
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