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At Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center, we’ve found a well-established connection between diet and sleep apnea. Here’s what you should know — and what you can do.

GERD and Sleep Apnea

Let’s start with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). GERD often manifests as heartburn, which is what happens when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. That stomach acid sometimes makes its way further up your esophagus, which can cause you to wake up coughing and gagging. The causes of GERD are still being researched, but it can be complicated by a number of factors, including diet and alcohol use, with some foods — chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, garlic and onions — being particular culprits. GERD often presents with sleep apnea, and there’s some debate whether one causes, or exacerbates, the other.

Diabetes and Sleep Apnea

Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body doesn’t produce sufficient insulin to regulate blood glucose levels. Here, the relationship to sleep apnea is complex; sleep deprivation — whether because of interrupted sleep or low-quality sleep — is a known precursor to type 2 diabetes. The onset of diabetes, meantime, often leads to excessive urination because your body is trying to rid itself of excess sugar, which can also interfere with sleep. Worse still, sleep apnea is linked to obesity, which both worsens the sleep apnea and makes it harder to manage your diabetes.

Obesity and Sleep Apnea

Let’s take an even closer look at the connection between obesity and sleep apnea. When we’re carrying extra weight, it changes our sleeping position and puts pressure on our airways. That compounds the obstructive component that underlies the most common type of sleep apnea. You’re constantly tired, which usually means lower levels of physical activity; that, in turn, leads to worse sleep and makes it harder to fight obesity — which worsens your sleep apnea. Sleep Solutions The solution here isn’t despair, it’s action. There are a few things you can do that will go a long way toward ensuring a better night’s sleep, and your better health.

Know What to Avoid

Avoid foods that trigger GERD, especially acidic foods. Avoid caffeine late in the day as well, since it not only triggers GERD but also interferes with natural sleep patterns. And avoid alcohol and sugary drinks; they’ll interfere with sleep, cause GERD, and complicate diabetes as well.

Know What to Add

Your primary care physician (and/or the team helping you manage your diabetes, if applicable) can advise on proper diet. Some of this — especially fruits and vegetables that can interfere with sleep — can be managed with proper timing. You should also be looking at more whole grains, healthy veggies, and lean protein to manage weight and improve quality of life.


Diet is important, but it’s only part of the equation. Getting more physically active keeps the pounds off, regulates insulin, and promotes emotional well-being. There’s an added benefit, of course: if that workout wears you out, you’re more likely to get a great night’s sleep.

Managing Your Sleep Apnea

It’s easier to make better choices when you’re not exhausted all the time. You can make a nutritious breakfast when you’re not just reaching for a bagel because you’re too tired to cook. You can exercise more when your legs don’t feel like lead. Sometimes the solution is as close, and as simple, as a visit to your Chicago sleep center. A sleep study, followed by an oral appliance or CPAP, can work wonders for your well-being. Why not contact Smile On Dental Salon and Sleep Apnea Center for more help?

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