Sleep Apnea’s Destructive Effects
Sleep apnea is an issue that can lead to a number of significant difficulties in life. When something directly impacts the quality of your sleep, there’s no telling how the rest of your day-to-day experiences will be affected.
If you’re finding that your breathing is interrupted during sleep, note that there are ways to improve sleep apnea symptoms. We’re going to run through a few obstructive sleep apnea treatment ideas, giving you some direction on how to find relief.
1. Try sleeping on your side
One thing that contributes to the constriction of the airways is sleeping on your back. This is especially true if you have excess weight in your upper body, which we’ll discuss next.
If you’re a back-sleeper and you have issues with sleep apnea, try what is called “positional therapy.” This is a fancy term for practices that help you to sleep on your side.
When you tip to your side, your throat might get a little less restricted and you’ll allow air to travel more freely. If you’re a back-sleeper, though, you might naturally roll back to your typical position while sleeping.
Explore options like preventative pillows or side-sleeping backpacks that prevent you from laying on your back.
2. Address excess weight
When we start to lose sleep, one of the unfortunate consequences can be weight gain. Our body needs sleep to improve almost all functions, including metabolism.
Poor sleep due to sleep apnea leads to poorer cognition, decision-making, and impulse control. We also have less energy to care for ourselves when we’re not getting great sleep — in this way sleep apnea becomes a double-edged sword. Any additional weight can actually make sleep apnea worse.
People suffering from sleep apnea are told that losing weight is one of the recommended ways to open up your airways while sleeping. The excess weight sits heavily on the chest and throat, constricting your pathway and reducing the amount of oxygen you intake.
But you’re fighting an uphill battle. For this reason, many suffering from sleep apnea don’t feel this is helpful advice, and we agree. Instead of feeling like you’re just not trying hard enough, we encourage you to be self-compassionate and see if you can find a doctor or coach who understands the link between sleep apnea and healthy body weight who will support you in your journey. It’s also why we encourage you to work with your sleep apnea from a comprehensive perspective so you’re supporting your body’s health overall and giving yourself a fighting chance.
3. Speak with your doctor
Bring the issue up to a doctor and see what they have to say. You might have some pre-existing issues that lead to sleep apnea. Those issues could be as simple as having allergies.
Strong allergies lead to inflammation which can make it difficult to breathe. This is even true while you’re in the comfort of your home.
There could be other issues at play as well, so it’s important to get an assessment.
4. Consult with a dentist
Your dentist might be able to offer you different pieces of equipment that can keep your pathways open as you try to sleep. Oral appliances offered by dentists can safely keep your pathways open and significantly reduce your sleep apnea symptoms.
In some cases, your apnea could be completely eliminated. This is a great option to explore if you’re trying to lose weight or address other issues and want immediate relief from symptoms.
5. Use a CPAP machine
CPAP machines are a common solution for individuals who experience sleep apnea. A CPAP machine includes a mask and a base that provides pressurized air through your pathways and keeps your breathing more even.
These machines also emit purified air. If your house has a lot of dust, smoke, or other contaminants in it, those things could be affecting the quality of your breathing as you sleep. Those issues are more or less difficult to address, so a CPAP machine is a great solution if you don’t have a way of purifying your air.
6. Engage in cardiovascular exercise
Cardio exercises help to strengthen the muscles and mechanisms that allow you to breathe. Cardiovascular exercise comes in the form of running, swimming, cycling, and even walking.
The idea is to get your heart rate accelerated and keep it at a high pace for a period of time. Don’t strain yourself too much at first, though. Even a brisk walk for half an hour is enough to start strengthening those muscles and improve your breathing.
7. Start doing yoga
Yoga is a great exercise option because it incorporates a number of specialized practices that help with breathing. You’re working out, but you’re doing so in a way that’s targeting various muscles and muscle groups.
You’re also doing breathing exercises in the process. Doing deep breathing and curating your yoga practice to deal with respiratory areas can help to improve your breathing as you sleep.
8. Practice breathing exercises
Yoga is one way to incorporate breathing and exercising, but don’t rule out different forms of stand-alone breathwork.
There are a number of practices that help you to develop strength in the lungs and pathways. Mindfulness meditation and alternate nostril breathing are ways to improve the quality of your breathing and allow you to take in more oxygen.
Take a look at some exercises you can do to improve the quality of your breathing.
9. Introduce a humidifier into your home
Part of the problem could be the air that you’re breathing. Adding a little moisture to the air might make it easier for your lungs to work on your behalf through the night.
Dry air can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, and constrict your airways. Introduce a humidifier to your bedroom and see if it does anything to improve the quality of your sleep.
10. Reduce drinking and smoking
If you’ve got the habit of drinking or smoking on a regular basis, those things might be contributing to your sleep apnea. Drinking slows your central nervous system and starts to relax the muscles in your throat.
That’s part of the reason that intoxicated individuals often snore. Smoking, on the other hand, can inflame the airways and make it difficult to breathe. Smoking also reduces your lung capacity.
Have difficulty with sleep apnea symptoms?
Sleep apnea symptoms can be difficult to deal with. Making the requisite lifestyle adjustments is just as hard sometimes. We’re here to help you out with more information, though.