Are you struggling with sleep apnea? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Sleep apnea can affect anyone, despite of their age, gender, or body shape. However, certain lifestyle factors can increase the risk and aggravate symptoms.
While a CPAP machine may be the best option for some people, here are five healthy tips that anyone can follow to improve their sleep and reduce sleep apnea symptoms:
1. Losing Weight
Although not everyone who has obstructive sleep apnea is overweight, being overweight or obese increases the chances of having the disorder. Weight gain frequently results in the formation of fatty deposits around the neck and tongue, which can obstruct the airway and cause apnea episodes. Losing a few pounds is likely to help sleep apnea symptoms in overweight people.
According to the a research, in moderately obese patients, decreasing 10 to 15% of body weight can lower the severity of obstructive sleep apnea by up to 50%(1). Even if you're only a few pounds overweight, decreasing weight may help you breathe easier and sleep better. You may be able to lessen the effects of sleep apnea and enhance your general health and well-being by losing excess weight.
2. Doing Exercise
Exercise is a great way to improve the quality of your sleep, and it may also help people with sleep apnea sleep better. Moderate aerobic activity can make it easier to get more deep, slow-wave sleep at night. Additionally, it's important to remember that any kind of exercise can be good for you, whether it's cardio or weight training.
A few researchers examined eight studies on exercise and sleep apnea and found that doing any kind of exercise, like cycling, running, walking or strength training, for as few as two days a week or as many as seven days a week can improve sleep apnea symptoms in patients(2).
Participants also said they slept better overall and felt less sleepy during the day. These improvements happened even though the people didn't lose weight, which shows that exercise can help people with sleep apnea sleep better on its own.
3. Purchase A Humidifier
Humidifiers function by adding moisture to the air, which can be beneficial for individuals experiencing discomfort and irritation caused by dry air. They can also aid in opening up airways, reducing congestion, and promoting easier breathing.
To enhance the benefits of a humidifier, you may also consider adding lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus oil. These essential oils have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that can aid in respiratory relief.
It's essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding cleaning your humidifier regularly since they can become a breeding ground for molds and bacteria.
4. Consider switching to a different sleep position
Sleeping on your side is typically better at keeping your airway unobstructed while sleeping. For those who typically sleep on their back or stomach, using a body pillow to encourage side-sleeping may be helpful. Also, ensure that both your mattress and pillow are in good condition.
5. Establish healthy sleep habits
While adopting healthy sleep habits may not provide a cure for sleep apnea, practicing proper sleep hygiene can still promote better sleep quality (3). Aim to get the same amount of sleep every night, maintain consistent sleep/wake times, limit daytime naps, and avoid using technological devices before bedtime.
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- Roche J, Isacco L, Masurier J, Pereira B, Mougin F, Chaput JP, Thivel D. Are obstructive sleep apnea and sleep improved in response to multidisciplinary weight loss interventions in youth with obesity? A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity. 2020 Apr;44(4):753-70.
- Gottlieb DJ, Punjabi NM. Diagnosis and management of obstructive sleep apnea: a review. Jama. 2020 Apr 14;323(14):1389-400.
- Borel AL. Sleep apnea and sleep habits: relationships with metabolic syndrome. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 2;11(11):2628.