Sleep apnea disorder (heavy snoring’s older brother) is not usually assigned by doctors as the direct cause of death, but it can certainly lead to a large range of other potential deadly health problems. Also, substance abuse can cause sleep disturbances, which result in relapse.
Sleep apnea, combined with other factors, are claimed to have caused iconic 70’s Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher to experience a heart attack and die on an airplane from London to New York at the end of 2017.
Carrie Fisher was highly at risk of dying from sleep apnea, as the physicians who analyzed her body’s condition post-mortem found a presence of opiates, cocaine, and alcohol.
Can You Actually Die from Sleep Apnea?
Can you actually pass away from the condition known as sleep apnea?
Some would debate that you will not actually die in your sleep from obstructive sleep apnea, or its main symptom and precursor- snoring. When the body’s nervous system determines it’s not getting enough air during sleep, it causes people to wake up abruptly.
At this time, the person becomes conscious and continues breathing again once again. This is why snorers and sleep apnea patients wake up repeatedly during the night, and fail to achieve REM sleep, the deepest sleep that promotes healing, well being, and energy replenishment.
However, when ignored, heavy snoring and sleep apnea can have major and life-threatening effects: unhealthy and high blood pressure, diabetes, lack of energy and massive fatigue during daylight hours, and sudden cardiac arrest during sleep.
3 million military veteran were followed for a period of 9 years, and researchers found that the ones with OSA were 86% likely to suffer a premature death than those who proactively treated the medical condition.
That’s a pretty big likelihood of dying before your time, and it seems to occur frequently in men, perhaps because men are more likely to be physically active than women, but then “retire” from significant physical exertion when the job no longer requires it, or as they grow older and get a little lazier, while still eating as much delicious food in sight.
This seems to also be the case with many professional atheletes as well. Former teammates Brett Favre and Reggie White both have sleep apnea, with the latter succumbing to a sudden death at the age of 43, due to many health complications including sarcoidosis, which is often found in conjunction with sleep apnea. The same issue of being overweight continues to turn up, as even NBA Champ Shaquille O’Neal put on a lot of pounds once he retired from playing basketball professionally.
“If we can get people to lose weight, it would make both sleep apnea and other health problems [such as heart disease] go away,” says Dr. Epstein. Dropping just 10% of a person’s body weight can have a massive effect on sleep apnea symptoms. In some cases, losing a large amount of weight can even cure the condition.
Obstructive sleep apnea, most common in people who are overweight, occurs when the breathing airways become very narrow or blocked. This can result in loud and obnoxious snoring, annyoing your partner and decreasing your wow factor overall in everyday life. Sleep apnea can even cause brain damage. Makes sense, because your body and brain are not getting enough oxygen.
However, on a somewhat positive note, a neuroimaging study showed recently that white matter damage caused in the brain by severe OSA can be reversed by CPAP use, also known as continuous positive airway pressure therapy.
Celebrities with sleep apnea: Notice a pattern regarding weight and sleep apnea here?
NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal
NFL quarterback Brett Favre
TV Talk Show Host Regis Philbin
Star Trek Actor William Shatner
Magician and Showman Penn Jillette
Writer Anne Rice
Daniel Lawrence Whitney (Larry the Cable Guy)
Music Producer and American Idol judge Randy Jackson
Music Producing Extraordinaire Quincy Jones (deceased)
Actress and Funny Woman Roseanne Barr
Comedian Rosie O’Donnell
Mythbusters TV show personality Adam Savage
Texas politician Rick Perry
However, it should also be noted that sleep apnea can also occur in thin people, and kids. This is usually due to the blockage of the airway by inflamed tonsils or larger-than-average musculoskeletal tissues, and even a blockage of the nostrils like deviated septum.
Not All Sleep Apnea is Obstructive: Some of it is Literally in Your Head
There are actually two types of sleep apnea, obstructive (the most common) and central sleep apnea, where central sleep apnea is caused by the nervous system failing to send out messages to the lungs to ensure the person breathes involuntarily during sleep.
Magnesium is a common mineral taken by people to enhance the body’s muscle relaxation. Because Sleep Apnea causes the muscles in the neck to constrict, Magnesium works to disrupt the cramping and relax the body. 5-HTP and Magnesium should be taken in tandem when supplementing for sleep apnea.
The most important aspect of it all? Treat your sleep apnea, period.
While you don’t have to necessarily get surgery to correct your apnea condition (usually done as a last resort), actively doing something to decrease or treat your snoring and sleep apnea is very likely to prolong your life and improve your health, as well as your living standard. CPAP is the golden standard in sleep apnea treatment, but less committal options include stop snoring and sleep apnea mouthpieces which can be bought over the counter, or custom fitted by a dentist.
Final Strategy for Sleep Apnea and Severe Snoring