A critical dive into sleep apnea
Let’s quickly review what sleep apnea is before moving on to our advice. Breathing stops and begins repeatedly throughout the night, perhaps hundreds of times, in obstructed sleep apnea. Usually as a result of the soft tissues at the back of the neck compressing, the airway gets closed. You cease breathing for ten seconds or more as a result of this, and when you finally wake up—possibly gasping for air—your breathing starts again. The cycle continues all through the night. Breathing pauses and starts 30 times or more per hour or more are regarded to be signs of severe sleep apnea in patients.
You cannot get the kind of sleep you need because of obstructed sleep apnea devices, which also causes your blood oxygen levels to drop. This lack of deep sleep combined with reduced oxygen levels can result in a number of serious issues, such as: daytime fatigue, depression, irritability, learning challenges, memory problems, accidents, including workplace and car accidents, sexual dysfunction, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and death.
Related: Finding it challenging to sleep with your CPAP machine? Read this
It seems sense that the first query that the majority of people ask is, Can sleep apnea be cured? given the potentially serious repercussions. While there are surgical alternatives for severe instances that might ease the problem, moderate cases of sleep apnea that are brought on by being overweight may be treated by the individual reducing weight, sleep apnea is generally not a condition that can be permanently healed. However, there are a variety of sleep apnea treatments available, from using a CPAP machine to wearing a specially designed dental appliance for snoring and sleep apnea, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
What Symptoms Indicate Sleep Apnea?
The only way to be sure whether you have sleep apnea is to be tested by a professional. You’ll often be recommended for a sleep study. However, you should get assistance if you exhibit any of the typical symptoms of sleep apnea. What are the symptoms of sleep apnea then? The warning signs and symptoms are:
- Trouble falling asleep
- loud snoring; gasping for air while you sleep
- instances of stopping breathing while sleeping (noticed by someone else)
- headache when you wake up
- dry mouth
- difficulty remaining asleep
- excessive daytime drowsiness
- difficulties paying attention.
Tips for Sleep Apnea Patients to Improve Sleep Quality
Obstructive sleep apnea does not always indicate that you will always have poor sleep quality. There are many things you may take to get more rest and have less breathing issues:
1. Acquire Sleep Apnea Sleeping Techniques
The fundamentals of sleeping with sleep apnea are crucial to comprehend since your sleeping posture might exacerbate the condition. The supine posture, often known as sleeping on your back, makes it more likely that the soft tissues at the back of your throat will relax and obstruct your airway since gravity will pull those tissues downward. The preferable choice is to sleep on your side, which may result in fewer apnea episodes. We all know it’s easier said than done to change sleeping positions. According to one research, persons with positional obstructive sleep apnea were able to quit sleeping on their backs, at least temporarily, by stitching a tennis ball to the back of their shirts. Even while you may not have to go that far, it might be helpful to discover techniques to learn to feel at ease sleeping on your side.
2. Reduce Your Weight If Needed
While being overweight or obese is not a requirement for having obstructive sleep apnea, it is a risk factor. Fatty deposits around the neck and tongue that may obstruct the airway also increase with weight gain. Losing weight can probably help your sleep apnea symptoms if you are overweight. According to the Sleep Foundation, persons with moderate obesity who lose 10 to 15% of their body weight would see a 50% reduction in the severity of their obstructive sleep apnea. However, even if you just have a few extra pounds, decreasing weight may improve your sleep and ability to breathe.
3. Limit alcohol intake and give up smoking
Alcohol lowers muscle tone in the mouth and throat, which restricts airflow and may make snoring and sleep apnea worse. Additionally, it may affect the muscles that govern respiration and how the brain regulates sleep. Although we wouldn’t encourage you to fully give up the odd glass of wine, it’s a good idea to restrict your alcohol consumption, especially before night. Another factor contributing to the severity of sleep apnea is smoking. The upper airway becomes inflamed as a result of smoking, which affects breathing. Sleep, breathing, and your overall health will all improve after you stop smoking.
4. Maintain a healthy sleep routine
You may not be able to cure sleep apnea on your own by following appropriate sleeping habits. However, excellent sleep habits can help you sleep better overall and may help you obtain the most amount of sleep possible after trying other strategies or getting sleep apnea treatment. Among the techniques to improve your sleeping habits are:
Utilizing your bedroom exclusively for sleeping; avoiding blue light-emitting devices like your phone, tablet, or laptop at least an hour before bed; creating and adhering to a sleep schedule (i.e., going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends); abstaining from caffeine, heavy meals, and alcohol close to bedtime; keeping your room dark, calming, and at a comfortable temperature; doing something calming before bed like tai chi.
Exercise is a crucial component of improving sleep, and it may even benefit those who suffer from sleep apnea. Exercise that is somewhat aerobic may increase your nighttime slow wave or deep sleep. However, any activity, including weightlifting and cardio, could be effective. Researchers examined eight studies on the relationship between exercise and sleep apnea and discovered that patients’ obstructive sleep apnea symptoms were improved by engaging in any form of exercise, such as strength training, walking, running, riding a stationary bike, or doing so seven days per week. Additionally, patients reported greater nighttime sleep and reduced daytime sleepiness. The gains occurred without any weight reduction, showing that the activity itself was the cause of the individuals’ improved sleep.
6. Purchase a humidifier
There is a reason why a lot of sleep apnea equipment come with attached or built-in humidifiers. Because dry air may irritate your throat and nose, you may snort more and breathe through your mouth as you sleep. A humidifier may help you breathe more easily and get a better night’s sleep, but it is neither a therapy for sleep apnea or a cure.
7. Think about a dental appliance
The majority of patients choose an oral appliance for sleep apnea over more intrusive treatments since it is more pleasant and less demanding than a CPAP. At order to avoid blockage when sleeping, it moves the lower jaw slightly forward, which tightens the muscles and soft tissues in the back of the throat.
Because it prevents the upper airway tissues from vibrating when air travels over them, which is the primary cause of snoring, it is also a great dental appliance for snoring. Oral appliances are a tried-and-true treatment for sleep apnea, and they don’t disrupt your regular activities or need a lot of maintenance. You’ll be glad you use a dental appliance for snoring if your bed mate appreciates it too!