Characterized by abnormal pauses while breathing during sleep, sleep apnea is an obstructive or central disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common than central apnea. Suddenly waking up startled, shallow breaths, and uncontrollable pauses during sleep can cause sleep apnea. It’s more than just heavy snoring and not only causes poor quality sleep, but also a reduction in the quality of life you are living.
According to findings of a recent study, elderly women with sleep apnea risk developing dementia. It was found that experiencing sleep apnea at least 15 times in a night increases an elderly woman’s risk of developing dementia or mild cognitive impairment by about 85%. With over 18 million Americans suffering from sleep apnea annually, it’s important to learn how to prevent or overcome this condition.
Choking noises, anxiety and fatigue during the day, poor sleep and loud snoring are other symptoms of sleep apnea. Without proper treatment, it can lead to stroke, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, depression, virus infections, diabetes, memory problems, obesity, poor job performance, car accidents, susceptibility to flu and cold, throat inflammation and poor performance in school.
However, it takes lifestyle changes such as reducing inflammation, exercising regularly, weight loss and diet improvement to prevent and overcome certain sleep disorders like apnea. Here are 5 tips to help you overcome this sleep disorder:
Top 5 Tips for Sleep Apnea Prevention & Treatment
Stop Smoking, Drinking Excess Alcohol & Overusing Sedatives
Alcohol impairs sleep quality. It relaxes the uvula, palate and throat muscles responsible for controlling breathing. Sedatives, OTC sleep aids and prescription tranquilizers have similar effects. They can also worsen sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring, causing grogginess during the day.
Alcohol and smoking can cause inflammation and airways retaining fluids, leading to reduced sleep quality. Smokers, unlike non-smokers, are three times more prone to developing obstructive sleep apnea. Keeping your system free from alcohol and tobacco can help improve the quality of sleep you get each night.
Lose Weight & Maintain a Healthy BMI
Weight gain affects your whole body, including neck. Excess fats in your neck affect your throat muscles and ability to breathe. Fats deposited around your upper airway can also cause sleep disturbances due to an obstructed ability to breathe normally. Measure your neck circumference and collar size to determine your risk of developing apnea.
It shouldn’t exceed 15 inches for women and 17 inches for men; a higher figure indicates a high risk for sleep apnea. Since obesity, sleep apnea, and poor sleep are interrelated, losing about 10% of your body weight can help reduce the risk and effects of this sleep disorder.
Eat a diet rich in fibers, healthy fats, protein foods and adaptogen herbs, exercise regularly and use essential oils to help you lose weight and maintain the right BMI.
Treat Congestion, Acid Reflux & Coughs
Congestion, acid reflux and severe coughs can interfere with normal breathing. Nasal congestion can cause sleep apnea or worsen its symptoms. Acid reflux, on the other hand, can cause irritation in your voice box and throat, including swellings around your throat muscles. Chronic coughs can also increase snoring due to irritation of your upper airways.
Reduce congestion and reflux by raising your head while sleeping (use a good pillow), avoiding exposure to allergies and eating a healthy diet.
Change Your Sleeping Position
Sleeping on your back can worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring. Because your palate tissue and tongue presses against the back of your throat. A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center found that sleeping on your side and raising your head while sleeping can prevent the symptoms of sleep apnea. Alternatively, sleep on your stomach, but no back.
Invest in a Humidifier
A humidifier can promote air flow through your airways and drainage of your sinuses for better sleep. Rubbing eucalyptus essential oil on your chest before getting to bed can soothe a stuffy nose or throat, naturally opening your airways for easy breathing.
Using sleep devices and snore guards can also help manage the symptoms of apnea while you are sleeping. Throat exercises and medication can also help. It’s important to find the underlying cause of your sleep disorder to completely treat it.
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