Sleep apnea is a common sleeping condition that causes you to have short periods where you stop breathing while sleeping. That involuntary stopping in breathing may be caused by a signaling problem in your brain or a blocked airway. Most of the time you will not be aware you’ve stopped breathing which can cause you to snore. Apart from leaving you feeling tired in the morning, sleep apnea can be caused by other health complications and if left untreated it can increase your risk of heart failure, poor immune system, contribute to memory loss, and trigger mental health issues.
Depending on what causes your sleep apnea it can be treated using medication, surgery, and breathing devices. The goal is to help you breathe normally while you’re asleep. You can make some lifestyle changes that will help in the treatment and prevention of sleep apnea to improve the quality of your life and your sleep.
Let’s look at some alternative ways that can help reduce apnea symptoms.
Changing your sleeping position can help improve your sleep and reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Avoid sleeping on your back because it has been shown to block your airways because your tongue and your palate tissue are pressed against the back of your throat which increases your snoring. Sleeping on your side on a medium firm ikea mattress keeps your body properly aligned and you can place a pillow under your head to keep it slightly raised to help you breathe normally. Or you can sleep on your stomach instead of your back.
Use a humidifier in your bedroom
Using a humidifier in your room has been reported to reduce snoring, congestion, and clear your airways to help you breath better. A humidifier adds moisture to the air as dry air can irritate your respiratory system. You can add some essential oils that have soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits like eucalyptus, lavender, or peppermint oil to your humidifier.
Maintain a healthy weight and diet
Weight gain increases your risk of sleep apnea because you’re increasing the weight on the inside of your neck which increases your throat muscles impairing your breathing. The more weight you gain the more likely you are to have sleeping problems because you have fat deposits in your upper airway blocking your breathing. Eating healthy foods, exercising, and losing weight are all natural remedies that can help with sleep apnea symptoms.
Exercising at least 4 times a week by doing some aerobics followed by some weight training twice a week has been shown to significantly help in improving sleep apnea and the tired feeling. It also helps to add muscle mass, burn calories, break up nasal congestion, and regulate your hormones. Eat food high in fiber like fresh veggies, nuts, and fruits, use healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil to help control your appetite, and eat enough proteins like fish.
Avoid excess smoking, alcohol, and overuse of sedatives
Limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking can reduce sleep apnea complications and improve your overall health. Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles including your palate, and uvula that are helpful in controlling your breathing. This can cause you to snore, block your airway, and lead to an inflammation of your airways. Tobacco can also inflame and cause your airways to swell making your snoring worse. If you smoke you’re 3 times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than someone who has never smoked. This is a very good reason for you to quit smoking and not drinking before you go to bed.
Get treatment for coughs, acid reflux, and congestion
People who snore heavily and have sleep apnea most likely have other medical conditions that affect their normal breathing like chronic coughs, acid reflux, and congestion. When your nasal passage is congested you will have trouble breathing through your nose which can make things worse leading to obstructive sleep apnea. In relation to acid reflux, the acid can affect your throat and voice box causing swelling and irritation of your throat muscles. Also when you cough you cause irritation to your upper airways which cause you to snore. Changing the food you eat can reduce your risk of being exposed to allergens and keeping your head slightly raised while sleeping can reduce congestion and reflux.
Exercising regularly helps to strengthen your heart, increase your energy levels, and improve your sleep apnea symptoms. Practicing Yoga can significantly help to improve your oxygen flow in your body and strengthen your respiratory system. When there is poor saturation of oxygen in your blood it can cause sleep apnea. Yoga has various breathing techniques that can help you improve the oxygen levels in your body.
Increase your antioxidant supplements
Oxidative stress and buildup of free radicals are associated with sleep apnea. Your body isn’t able to counter oxidative stress if you have decreased antioxidants in your blood like beta-carotene and vitamin E. This affects your blood vessels and they aren’t able to relax and contract as they should which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease. Taking antioxidant supplements can help to naturally remedy the situation and treat your sleep apnea.
Temporarily use a snore guard or sleeping device
As a temporary measure, before you resolve your sleep apnea problems, you can use a snore guard. You insert into your mouth so that your jaw moves forward slightly to keep your airways open preventing apneas and snoring. If your sleep apnea is chronic you can try a more permanent device like the mandibular advanced device that is inserted into your mouth by your dentist and it can stay in your mouth for a few years. However, some of the side effects for these devices include tooth or jaw pain.
Changing your lifestyle and trying some of the above home remedies can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms. However, if your condition is chronic it’s best to consult your doctor for medication or surgery to help treat the condition.