Addiction is a complicated disorder, but over the last few decades, it has become clear that there are a number of factors at play, from genetics and environment to trauma, depression and chronic pain. In recent years, researchers have added sleep apnea to the list.
One study suggested that the rate of apnea and other sleep disorders is five to 10 times higher in people with alcoholism or other substance use disorders. Sleep disorders are so serious that they can increase the risk of relapse following drug and alcohol treatment or rehab.
What is Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder that occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep. When the airway narrows or closes, people may stop breathing for periods lasting a few seconds or minutes, sometimes as often as 30 times or more every hour throughout the night.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea include shallow breathing or shortness of breath, snorting or gasping for air and loud snoring. Many people are unaware they have sleep apnea and they may be puzzled why they are constantly exhausted during the day. Individuals with sleep apnea may also experience poor concentration, depression, irritability, sore throats or early morning headaches.
Which Came First?
When it comes to sleep apnea and addiction, it’s difficult to tell which came first. The truth is, it could be either or both. For example, a person who experiences sleep problems may turn to alcohol to fall asleep, although alcohol actually decreases the quality of sleep, thus causing increased daytime sleepiness and fatigue.