World No Tobacco Day: The Link Between Smoking and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Is There a Link Between Smoking and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Cheers, Sleepy Yetis!

Today marks the World Health Organization’s “World No Tobacco Day.” While the focus on the 2019 campaign is lung health (which is incredibly important!), I thought I’d take this opportunity to delve into the relationship between smoking and OSA. As smoking is a lifestyle habit, its important to stay informed of all the risks associated before lighting up.

Smoking Increases the Risk of Sleep Apnea

A strong association between smoking and OSA has been found in observational studies. In one study, smoking several times a day was the third greatest predictor for OSA, after age and tiredness.

It makes sense that smoking would impact OSA as smoking directly interferes with the area responsible for the disorder. Smoking can damage upper airway muscle function and is associated with mucosal damage and endobronchial inflammation.

Amplified Health Risks

Both OSA and smoking cause similar health risks, thus increasingly the likelihood of such risks presenting themselves. Shared risks include:

  • Airway inflammation
  • Snoring
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Problems
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Stroke

CPAP and Smoking

CPAP therapy is proven to treat sleep apnea, but did you know it might also help you quit smoking? A study conducted by the Department of Respiratory Medicine in Shanghai found in addition to smoking increasing the likelihood of sleep apnea, the reverse is also true. This means sleep apnea may also be a predisposing factor for smoking. While quitting smoking will reduce the likelihood of sleep apnea, treating your sleep apnea may also help you quit smoking. According to one study, sleep disturbance, such as sleep apnea, can lead to self-medicating through smoking.

Future Studies

There are still future areas of study regarding OSA and smoking. Further clarification of the effects of one disorder on the other may have significant implications for exactly hoe to reduce the public burdens of smoking and OSA. There are also questions regarding the impact of the newfound popularity of e-cigarettes and other forms of nicotine consumption.

Bottom Line

Studies have already indicated a link between smoking and OSA leading to one another with further testing being conducted to understand the specifics. From a sleepy yeti standpoint, if you smoke and have OSA, it appears most beneficial to tackle both, if you’re going to reap the full benefits! 

Always remember to keep your health as a top priority and to snooze on, my lovely sleep friends!