Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes you to stop breathing for short durations of time during your sleep. Individuals who have this condition fail to take in a sufficient amount of oxygen, and as a result, they gasp and wake up. More often than not, people have no idea that they are not breathing and assume that their sleep cycle is completely normal. Many people will confuse sleep apnea with snoring. There are many treatment options for sleep apnea, but there are also lifestyle changes that you can make to help as well. Keep reading to learn what a few of these are.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Most doctors will recommend for individuals with sleep apnea to lose weight, as obesity can increase the risk of the airway becoming obstructed. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can help ensure that your airways remain clear, reducing your sleep apnea symptoms. This may even help reduce your overall risk of needing long-term sleep apnea (CPAP) therapy and/or surgical intervention. In some instances, losing weight may eliminate the sleep apnea condition altogether.
Change Your Sleeping Position
Although it may seem odd that such a small thing can do any good, changing the position in which you sleep at night can help in reducing your symptoms and improve the quality of sleep that you get each night. Sleeping on your back at night worsens the sleep apnea symptoms. You may find that switching to your side can have a positive effect. Ideally, you will want to discuss sleeping positions and symptoms that you are experiencing at night with your doctor to determine the best option for your individual situation.
Invest in a Humidifier
Humidifiers are designed to increase the amount of moisture in the air in a given space. Dry air is known to irritate the nasal passages and respiratory system as a whole, so with a humidifier in the room where you sleep, you can expect your airways to open up more, your congestion to be decreased, and your breathing to be cleaner and clearer.
Avoid Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
If you currently smoke and drink alcohol, you may want to think about cutting back or quitting altogether, as both of these can complicate your sleep apnea condition. Alcohol tends to relax the muscles in the throat, which can cause snoring and inflammation. Tobacco use can result in swelling and inflammation of the airways, causing you to snore as well. Therefore, by quitting both of these, you can reduce your sleep apnea symptoms.
For more information, speak to a sleep specialist near you, or visit a local clinic, like Upstate Sleep Solutions.