5 Common Causes of Sleep Apnea

Man snoring in his bed / Sleep apnea treatment in Encino, CA

When dealing with sleep apnea, patients sometimes feel desperate to uncover the root cause of their sleep disorder. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, lack of sleep, irritability and so many other health concerns that finding the cause can feel like an immediate need. There are many causes of sleep apnea, and it may take some time to determine the root cause.

At The Encino Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders, we’ve compiled a list of five of the most common causes of sleep apnea. This list is non-exhaustive— if you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, contact us to set up a consultation and see if you may benefit from a sleep study.

Excess Weight

Excess weight is one of the easiest causes of sleep apnea to eliminate. When fat deposits settle near the throat, your airway can become obstructed. This may be the first thing your doctor looks at to treat sleep apnea. While losing weight may not come easy to every patient, it’s far easier to remove weight than it is to discard age or genetics.


Sometimes the odds are just against us. Some genetic factors, such as gender and family history, can leave patients predisposed to living with sleep apnea. According to the Mayo Clinic, men are 2 to 3 times more likely to have sleep apnea than women.

Alcohol Use

Alcohol, sedatives, and tranquilizers are depressants, which means they relax muscles. When the throat and tongue muscles relax beyond their normal rate, it can obstruct the airway and make breathing difficult during sleep. If you’re dealing with sleep apnea, it’s best to avoid such substances so your apnea doesn’t get worse.

Health Conditions

Many health conditions, from hormonal disorders to heart failure to type 2 diabetes, can have an effect on sleep and the throat muscles. At the Encino Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders, we recommend talking to your doctor about treatment for your condition in tandem with a sleep dentist to alleviate your sleep apnea.


This cause may just take some time to solve. Congestion clogs the airway and causes difficulty breathing. You can alleviate these difficulties by taking allergy medications, sleeping with a humidifier, or taking a steamy shower to clear the congestion.