There are literally millions of people who suffer from Sleep Apnea, in fact, research has demonstrated that there is a significant percentage of the entire population that live through the effects of sleep apnea, some of whom may not even be aware that it is happening to them. With that in mind, we’ve created a shortlist of treatments to assist those who are effected by it, in an effort to provide people with the tools and knowledge necessary to help them to get a better sleep.
To begin, however, it is important to give a few details about exactly what sleep apnea is, and how it effects you.
What is Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea in simplest terms, is when someone has a pause in breathing while they sleep. Generally, this pause is very brief, though in other cases can extend for longer periods of time. This may result in your body reacting with a shocked response, often causing a person to wake up feeling somewhat startled. This shock can often result in an increased heart rate, and difficulty falling back to sleep. This may sound simple enough, but in more extreme cases, this lack of breathing during sleep can happen many times in an hour, and obviously has an effect on the quality of sleep overall. This can be exasperated further by the fact that many people will not even be aware that this is happening, and simply believe they have had a less than optimum sleep.
The effects of sleep apnea can have a significantly negative influence on your quality of sleep, and if left without attention, a decrease in your quality of life; however, there is good news for those effected by sleep apnea, however, as it can be treated, and even prevented, by making some moderate lifestyle adjustments. At Truvva we are focused on assisting people find a better sleep, and this guides provides a list of natural treatments for sleep apnea that offer some treatment options, but are useful tips for anyone looking to find a better sleep.
Knowledge is Power – Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
There are various methods to determine whether you are effected by sleep apnea, though the best and most common test is known as a polysonogram. This is a comprehensive test that involves the use of devices worn on your body while you sleep (head, chest and abdomen), that record your activity during sleeping hours, and keep track of oxygen levels in your blood (finger sensor). There are different ways that such a test can be taken, though in less extreme cases, this can be done from home, under the guidance of a professional sleep therapist. To ensure you have the best information, and the most accurate assessment of your situation, a sleep therapist is always recommended as an important step in finding solutions to any sleep related issues.
- Symptoms of Sleep Apnea (no intended order)
- Shortness of breath when waking
- Chronic headaches & dizzyness
- Waking up with dry mouth or sore/dry throat
- Poor concentration and memory, daytime trouble focusing, or feeling of being disconnected
- Anxiety or short temper
- Your sleeping partner reporting your odd breathing at night
1. How You Sleep – Sleeping Position to Fight Sleep Apnea
It isn’t often people spend a lot of time thinking about exactly what position they are in when they are sleeping, but it can have a profound impact on the depth and quality of your sleep. By taking a few simple and deliberate steps to ensure you are in a specific position, you are able to effect the quality of your sleep, and help alleviate the effects of sleep apnea.
- Try keeping your head elevated, as this will help to reduce snoring and some other breathing related issues.
- Attempt to avoid sleeping on your back, as this is clearly demonstrated to increase snoring, and exasperate sleep apnea
- Consider using a full-body pillow to keep your head slightly raised, while creating a comfy and cozy ‘hugging’ position that will help you avoid sleeping on your back.
2. Diet & Exercise – Weight Control
It isn’t often the most comfortable topic to broach with people at the best of times, though it is important to be direct when dealing with issues that are potentially disruptive to your sleep, and quality of life in general. In this case, it is the issue of being overweight, and weight gain in general is an important matter that will adversely effect your quality of sleep, and can increase the effects of sleep apnea.
The amount of weight you have on your body is not placed uniformly, and being overweight can increase the likelihood of sleep apnea, as your body is likely to add fatty mass to the area around your neck, which will effect the muscles around your throat. This increased weight can adversely effect your breathing, and ultimately have a negative impact on your sleep in general. In fact, there have been studies that demonstrate how the girth of a person’s neck demonstrates substantially higher likelihood of developing sleep apnea – so, be aware.
There is a kind of vicious circle that exists around this issue, as it is very often the case that a poor quality of sleep can lead to issues with weight increase, which in turn exasperates the effect of sleep apnea, and poorer quality of sleep. The facts are simple – obesity and those who are overweight are much more likely to develop Sleep Apnea. Furthermore, the effects of sleep apnea can extend well beyond just a poor sleep, as long term suffering from sleep apnea can lead to many other additional health problems, including cardiovascular and other diseases.
If you are one of the millions who suffer from obesity, or are overweight, then you should set a goal to begin a program to reduce your weight. Even small reductions can have a powerful and profound impact on your quality of sleep, and help to reduce the effects of sleep apnea. As mentioned, the reduction in neck weight alone will help to open your airways, and increase the quality of your breathing, and the resultant levels of oxygen in your blood.
- Consider consulting with a dietician to establish an agreeable and healthy eating plan
- Choose the healthier options when making food choices, and ensure your protein/carb balance is in tune with your body weight goals
- Exercise regularly – a 30 minute daily walk in the sunshine will do an enormous amount of benefit to your sleep quality, and general health. Further consider establishing a plan to make yourself active on a daily basis
- Try using alternative therapies, including light and/or sound therapy, essential oils and other techniques to assist you in achieving your goals
3. Sleeping Environment to Combat Sleep Apnea
It is demonstrated that lighting is a key factor in your body’s natural release of melatonin, which is the hormone in your body that helps regulate sleep. Dark environments create an increased melatonin release, and as such, you should pay close attention to ensure your sleeping environment is dark, and not polluted by lighting that is not necessary. Additionally, there are numerous reports that suggest the humidity and temperature of your sleeping room can effect your sleep, and specifically snoring and sleep apnea. Environments that are generally more humid, and that are not too warm, will increase the quality of your sleep, and help reduce the impacts of sleep apnea. If you are using a humidifier, it is also worth considering using scented oils inside the water of the humidifier, that assist in opening your airways (eucalyptus etc.)
4. Using Sleeping Tools/Devices & Supplements
There are a multitude of products available to help alleviate snoring, or assist with symptoms of sleep apnea. One of the most popular is the ‘mouth guard’ products, which are custom fitted and worn in your mouth while you sleep. They work to keep your jaw position such that your airways are kept open during sleep.
Additionally, melatonin supplements are widely used, and offer many people the help they need in finding a good night’s sleep. They have been demonstrated to be non-addictive, and can be used whenever you feel it is necessary prior to sleep. There are a variety of products available on the market, and starting with lower dosages is probably the most reasonable way to use the product. Like all things, it is always wise to consult a physician and/or your sleep therapist if you have any worries or questions about using natural products.
5. Allergies & Other Conditions effecting Sleep Apnea
There can be a number of medical issues that can lead to snoring and sleep apnea. Those who suffer from allergies, for example, are more likely to have breathing issues, which can exasperate sleep apnea symptoms and snoring. Often times, those who have allergies or other medical conditions will have chronic congestion and coughs, which will certainly make breathing more difficult. In fact, even if you do not currently suffer from sleep apnea, these other medical conditions can contribute to the development of sleep apnea.
Ensure you have consulted with your physician if you are suffering from allergies, or other chronic issues that effect your breathing, or you find yourself suffering from any type of chronic cough or congestions. In so doing, you will ensure you are receiving the proper treatments to reduce the effects of these conditions, and ultimately assisting you in combating any symptoms you may suffer related to snoring and/or sleep apnea.
Bonus Tip – Alcohol and other Sedatives
Many products sold today, including prescription sedatives and sleeping aids, may interfere with sleep quality by causing throat muscles to relax, which can effect your breathing while you sleep – obviously, the net effect of this, will be increased snoring and other symptoms of sleep apnea. Additionally, many people report feeling more dopy and suffer from “cotton head” the next day after taking these sedatives.
Alchohol use and smoking also have a negative effect on sleep quality overall, including the aforementioned relaxation of throat muscles, but also in the retention of phlegm and other fluids in your throat while sleeping.
- Stop smoking, or try not so smoke in the hours prior to sleeping
- Don’t over consume alcohol, and avoid drinking more than one or two ounces up to two or three hours before sleeping.
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleeping issues, and while it is common, can be treated with many techniques, both naturally, and with the assistance and guidance of a Sleep Therapist. The points highlighted in this article are designed to assist those who are having sleeping issues, and who are interested in the causes and potential solutions to some of the more common sleep apnea symptoms.
We hope you have enjoyed this article, and would love to hear your experiences and ideas. Feel free to comment below, and join us at Truvva for updates, new articles and ideas, product tips and other great information – stay informed!