My husband decided to stop drinking soda. Since then, his obstructive sleep apnea has improved. Is there research to support a connection between sleep apnea and caffeine?
Answers from Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D.
A small amount of research has been conducted in the potential connections between caffeine use and obstructive sleep apnea.
One study showed that caffeinated soda use may be associated with more severe sleep-disordered breathing, such as obstructive sleep apnea. However, tea or coffee use didn't appear to be associated with more severe sleep-disordered breathing.
In another study, caffeine seemed to improve thinking (cognitive) function in people with obstructive sleep apnea.
In addition, doctors sometimes prescribe caffeine for premature infants to reduce episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep.
More research is needed to study how caffeine use affects people with obstructive sleep apnea.
These lifestyle changes may help manage some cases of obstructive sleep apnea:
- Lose excess weight.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid medications that relax the muscles in the back of your throat.
- Sleep on your side or stomach rather than on your back.
Often, however, you may need certain devices to keep the airway open. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure.
Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D.
May 09, 2013
- Norman D, et al. Caffeine intake is independently associated with neuropsychological performance in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep & Breathing. 2008;12:199.
- Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 21st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=56807807. Accessed March 13, 2013.
- NINDS sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sleep_apnea/sleep_apnea.htm. Accessed March 13, 2013.
- Aurora RN, et al. Sleep-disordered breathing and caffeine consumption: Results of a community-based study. Chest. 2012;142:631.