5 Ways to Decrease Risk of Dying While Sleeping

Posted by Darian Dozier on Nov 30, 2022 6:48:00 PM

Add a heading-Jun-03-2022-12-37-55-29-PMHigh-profile celebrity deaths like Bob Saget and Ray Liotta may have you questioning your own safety as you close your eyes at night. Especially as we age, each breath becomes that much more precious as anything could happen at any time. Although there is very little control over when our bodies decide we have reached our end, there are some things we can do to ensure optimal health to give ourselves a little bit more reassurance when we lay our heads down to sleep. Continue reading for 5 ways to keep yourself healthy before getting some Zzz's. 

1. Be Aware of Your Medications

Those with heart and lung disease and who take medications that can affect the brain - like sedatives, antidepressants or pain management - have the greatest risk of dying in their sleep. Dr. Sumeet Chugh, the medical director of Cedars-Sinai's Heart Rhythm Center advised people to talk to their doctors about reducing their risk by changing or reducing medications in the most appropriate manner. 

Patients can advocate for themselves and ask do they really need the sedative, or can they reduce their number of medications. The older we get, the less medications we need to be on, due to their inevitable interaction with one another. However, normally the opposite is true as physicians try to manage the growing number of health problems with more medications. Also, avoid alcohol and other substances as they also can interact with medications. 

2. Watch Out for Sleep Apnea 

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes brief cessations in breathing throughout the night. This is due to a blockage of the airway from a large tongue in the way or relaxed muscles in the back of the throat. Your body arouses slightly to get you breathing again, which can lead to choking or gasping for air. You won't remember waking up, but you will wake up feeling groggy with excessive daytime sleepiness. 

OSA can increase the risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac arrest. The condition is treatable, but there are upwards 80 to 90% of undiagnosed individuals with sleep apnea. If you snore chronically and experience extreme fatigue, then you may want to talk with your physician about sleep apnea. 

3. Acknowledge Chest Pain 

Chest pain is serious. You shouldn't ignore it or just take some medication and go to sleep. It can be a sign of something more severe, especially if you have risk factors of heart disease. These include being family history female, smoking, excessive drinking, inactivity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, etc. 

Up to 90% of sudden death during sleep are caused by cardiovascular disease. If you experience any pain in your chest, left arm, jaw, back or shoulders, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or dizziness, then you should call 9-1-1. Even if it turns out to be nothing, better safe than sorry. 

4. Pay Attention to Heart Health 

Being aware of your heart health and overall health can truly help you feel at ease about where your body is at. Avoiding your symptoms and the doctors is only going to let diseases sprawl out of control until there is very little that can be done. 

In addition to visiting the doctor, it's also important to get regular exercise, avoid tobacco, and only drink alcohol in moderation. A heart healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet can also help with reducing the risk of heart disease. 

5. Get Enough Sleep

Not getting enough sleep can lead to a host of health problems. It can increase your risk for inflammation and inflammatory diseases, heart disease, pain, and metabolic disorders like diabetes. Getting enough sleep can reduce your risk of all those, as well as increase your motivation and focus for things like working out and making good food decisions. 

Things like setting up a good sleep hygiene and making sure that you are sleeping in an optimal sleeping environment can really help you get enough sleep. 

If you are struggling with getting enough sleep, then that may be a sign of an underlying issue. Click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test and speak with one of our sleep health professionals. 

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Topics: Health, heartdisease

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