One of the lifestyle change recommendations that physicians will make for sleep apnea patients is quitting smoking. Quitting smoking can help you sleep better and improve your lung health. When you smoke cigarettes and have sleep apnea, it can increase your health risks even more for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and airway inflammation. Cigarettes can also damage the upper airway, and cause inflammation and mucus in the upper airway.

Overall, smoking can make sleep apnea much more severe.

man blowing vape smoke after inhaling from his device

One way patients are getting around their doctor’s orders to quit smoking is by switching to vaping. But is vaping just as bad as smoking? Can vaping make sleep apnea worse? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Vaping?

Electronic cigarettes (vapes) heat a liquid combination of chemicals, nicotine, and other ingredients that produce an aerosol for inhalation. Vaping imitates the same behavior as smoking a cigarette. Many people view it as a healthier alternative to smoking. Although it’s better for your health than smoking cigarettes, it still has harmful effects. People who vape inhale ultrafine particles, heavy metals, toxic flavorings such as diacetyl, and volatile organic compounds. Although it’s not equivalent to the 7,000+ chemicals in cigarettes, the toxins present can still lead to lung disease, heart disease, throat or nasal cancer.

Vaping is popular among young adults who want the same nicotine sensation as cigarettes, but without the smells or harsh effects of cigarettes. The liquid can come in a variety of flavors either as refillable cartridges or disposable pods.

The nicotine found in e-cigarettes is the same as the nicotine found in cigarettes which means it can have the same consequences. For instance, people who vape can also experience addiction and withdrawal. Nicotine is a highly addictive and toxic stimulant that can cause high blood pressure, headaches, persistent cough, spiked adrenaline levels, nasal blockage, diarrhea, and heartburn.

How Vaping Affects Sleep Quality

Nicotine in general can affect your quality of sleep—regardless if it comes from an e-cigarette or regular cigarette. Nicotine is a stimulant which means it causes the heart rate to increase, blood pressure to rise, and it begins to produce adrenaline. Smoking before bed is a lot like drinking a cup of coffee.

Aside from the adrenaline rush, nicotine can also impact the REM cycle—the deepest cycle of sleep. The body won’t stay in the REM cycle as long as it should due to nicotine withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm.

If you want to get the best night of sleep possible, quitting vaping is just as important as quitting cigarettes. 

How Vaping Affects Sleep Apnea

You might think that vaping is better for sleep apnea than smoking cigarettes, but it’s actually not. It can still affect your sleep cycle and your lungs which means it can affect sleep apnea. Vaping can cause inflammation in the lungs, throat, and nose which can increase apnea episodes throughout the night.

Smoking can also contribute to overall health issues that may also aggravate your sleep apnea condition. For instance, smoking affects all systems in the body including the heart, brain, lungs, and immune system. These can all make sleep apnea much worse.

Smoking can also stimulate the upper airway muscles which can make breathing during sleep more difficult.

A study from 2012 found that people with sleep apnea were most susceptible to nicotine addiction, likely because they feel so tired throughout the day. Not only is your vaping habit destroying your health, but your untreated sleep apnea habit is contributing to your smoking addiction.

Whether you’re vaping or smoking a cigarette, they’re both terrible for those who have sleep apnea. 

Quit Smoking or Reduce Nicotine Intake

Nicotine is the key source of sleep problems associated with smoking. If you can’t quit your smoking habit, at the very least, try to quit smoking a few hours before going to bed or reduce the nicotine percentage. The less nicotine that’s in your system, the less it will affect your sleep. Quitting smoking likely won’t cure your sleep apnea, but it will improve your condition dramatically.

Solution: Get Oral Appliance Therapy in Fort Atkinson Today

If you’re struggling to quit smoking or vaping, and you want to quit, one of the best places to start is with sleep apnea treatment. If you’re not already diagnosed with sleep apnea, this will be our starting point. Dr. Stafford will refer you to a home sleep testing service where you will wear a device while you sleep for two nights. Then, a physician will review your results and diagnose you with sleep apnea if you have it.

After you receive a diagnosis, you will meet with Dr. Stafford to discuss your treatment options. She will also examine your airway as well as your jaw to determine if there are any other underlying problems like TMJ that need to be addressed. Dr. Stafford will then provide you with a custom treatment plan including a custom-made oral appliance. You will wear the appliance while you sleep every night. It will hold your airway open so you can breathe effectively throughout the night—snore and apnea-free.

Once you start feeling relief from sleep apnea symptoms, you might feel more motivated to quit smoking or vaping. With consistency and hard work, you can completely transform your quality of life and overall health.

Contact our Fort Atkinson sleep apnea dentist today at (920) 563-7323 to book an appointment.