Sleep apnea is a common and frightening sleep disorder that affects a person’s breathing during the night. People suffering from sleep apnea experience breaks in their normal breathing pattern. This can be an extremely scary thing for both the person and their loved ones.
The most common remedy for sleep apnea is to use a CPAP machine, which provides continuous positive airway pressure and gives the device its name. A CPAP machine helps keep your airways open using mild pressure.
But what if you don’t want to use a CPAP machine, or it’s not covered under your medical insurance plan? There are alternative ways to treat your sleep apnea condition.
Maintaining a healthy weight is beneficial for a multitude of reasons from decreased heart issues, lower risk of diabetes, to preventive back and joint pain. But did you know that losing weight can actually improve sleep and help combat the signs of sleep apnea?
When a person is overweight, they have extra tissue located in the back of their throat. During sleep, this tissue can block the airway and prevent much-needed air from reaching the lungs. Losing even just a few pounds is enough to help clear your throat and improve the flow of air.
We know that smoking is a life-threatening habit, leading to lung cancer, COPD, yellowing teeth and fingernails, and increased health risks. But smoking also increases fluid retention and inflammation in the throat. Smoking is also associated with swelling in the nasal passages.
As you could imagine, this fluid and swelling makes airflow during sleep even more difficult. Smoking in general negatively impacts a person’s sleep patterns, especially if it’s done prior to bed because nicotine acts as a stimulant.
Things to Avoid
There are several things to avoid when suffering from sleep apnea. Things like alcohol, sleeping pills, and caffeine can make a difficult night’s sleep almost impossible.
You might think that a nice relaxing drink before bed will help you rest better, when in fact the opposite is true if you are a sleep apnea sufferer. Alcohol relaxes the body so much that the muscles in the throat are affected. When the muscles are relaxed too much, it interferes with breathing.
Any type of sleep aid or sedative will actually make the condition worse rather than better. You might feel more relaxed and drowsy, which will help you fall asleep, but the relaxing effects of sleeping pills are similar to those mentioned about alcohol. When your throat, tongue, and soft palate relax too much, they will act as another roadblock for air to properly reach your lungs.
It makes perfect sense to avoid caffeine before bed, but if you suffer from sleep apnea this has never been more true. Caffeine can actually mask the symptoms of sleep apnea, leaving you misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Sleep apnea sufferers often feel tired and sluggish during the day, because they’re experiencing broken sleep at night. The use of caffeine can combat this drowsiness but might also prevent a proper medical diagnosis.
Tips for Sleeping
If you’ve determined that you do in fact have sleep apnea, there are several sleeping positions that can make you more comfortable and help quiet your snoring.
Sleep on Your Side
The worst position for a sleep apnea sufferer is on their back. When you sleep on your back, your tongue and throat muscles relax and naturally fall to the back of your throat, causing an obstruction. Sleeping on your side will help prevent this.
Sleep Propped Up
By propping up the top portion of your body, you’re opening up the airways, which will prevent some sleep apnea side effects. You can achieve this by using multiple pillows or a sleep wedge.
Open Your Nasal Passages
Any attempts at increasing airflow through your nose or mouth will help lessen sleep apnea symptoms. Using a saline or nasal spray can achieve this. Other options include breathing strips or a neti pot.
Other self-help remedies include anything that helps tighten your throat muscles including singing, tongue, and mouth exercises, and even chewing gum.
Don’t Ignore Signs of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. If you or your partner has noticed an increase in snoring or exhaustion during daytime hours, these could be signs of sleep apnea. Try some of these at home treatments and document if your condition improves. If not, you may need to seek a medical professional to help diagnose and treat your sleep apnea.
Article Submitted by Community Writer.