Affecting tens of millions of people around the world, sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, but is also difficult to diagnose, as many people don’t even realize they are suffering from the conditions. Put plainly, sleep apnea is a disturbance in the respiratory effort of the body while sleeping. A pause in breathing causes a lack of oxygen flow into the body, and a build-up of carbon dioxide in the body. This stimulates the body to wake itself up, or intake oxygen rapidly to compensate. There are three types of sleep apnea: central, obstructive, and complex (a combination of the first two). In central sleep apnea, all respiratory effort by the body stops, and often results in restless sleep and frequent waking episodes, thus resulting in fatigue and other characteristics of poor sleep patterns. Obstructive sleep apnea is a physical obstruction of the airway, so inhalation occurs through another route, namely through the nose, causing snoring. Complex apnea is when both of these types of apnea occur in a single night.
Sleep apnea can have long-term effects of chronic fatigue, and if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, the constant snoring can be very difficult to sleep through if you have a partner. Fortunately, that is how most sleep apnea is initially diagnosed, by someone else noticing your sleep behaviors and auditory emissions. Sleep apnea treatments include everything from nasal strips to open airways, all the way up to complex machines that must be work during sleep to ensure proper breathing. There are also a number of natural and home remedies that many people seek, due to the expense and inconvenience of more formal treatments. Now, let’s take a more comprehensive look at some of these home remedies for sleep apnea.
Quit Smoking: One of the major causes of sleep apnea, particularly obstructive sleep apnea, is smoking. This causes constriction and weakness within the airway, as well as inflammation, which can block breathing efforts when we sleep. If you want to stop snoring, eliminating cigarettes from your life is a wise choice, particularly because of all the other health issues that it can cause. Smokers are found to have sleep apnea three times as often as non-smokers!
Sleep on Your Side: When you sleep on your back, it is much more difficult for your respiratory system to compensate for sleep apnea symptoms, like airway blockage. The tongue and soft tissue of the throat will naturally fall to the back of the mouth when you’re sleeping on your back, thus blocking the airway and causing snoring. Sleeping with a pillow between your knees can help keep you on your side while you sleep.
Lose Weight: Obesity is closely linked to sleep apnea, as the body is basically overloaded with extra tissue. This exists in the throat and neck as well, and this extra fat can block the airway, thus causing snoring and the interruption of respiratory activity. Losing weight can also help boost your health in other ways, but it is particularly effective for preventing all types of apnea.
Exercise Regularly: It is believed that aerobic exercise in many forms can strengthen the respiratory system and prevent sleep apnea. Exercise also saps our energy and promotes healthy, deep sleep to repair and recover. Exercise has a wealth of positive effects on the body, and boosting the duration and quality of your sleep are two of them!
Practice Singing: This may seem a bit unexpected, but strengthening the soft tissues of the throat and soft palate. By boosting the muscle control in these areas, through activities like singing, there is a lower chance of loose or lax muscles allowing the airway to be blocked. If you aren’t a singer, or have no interest in that option, there are also a number of instruments that can promote a stronger soft palate, including the use of a didgeridoo to improve breath control and respiratory system strength.
Add Magnesium: Sleep apnea primarily affects the muscles of the upper throat region, you should ensure that your muscle regulation is optimal if you’re suffering from sleep apnea. Magnesium is an essential mineral that directly affects the muscles throughout our body, so proper levels of magnesium are recommended. You can take magnesium in the form of a supplement, or in high-magnesium foods, such as leafy greens, bananas, beans, avocados and various seeds.
Lavender: One of the most commonly used sedative and soothing herbs is lavender. As a traditional remedy for sleep apnea, it can reduce inflammation in the throat and the muscles that affect sleep apnea. It can also induce deep, restful sleep to prevent the common symptoms of fatigue that sufferers of sleep apnea commonly experience.
Regulate Sleep Schedule: The most important lifestyle remedy for sleep apnea is ensuring that you generally sleep at the same time each day. By having irregularities in your sleep schedule, your body cannot establish set cycles. This causes you to sleep “lighter”, making you more prone to the muscle irregularities and respiratory issues of sleep apnea. Try to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and set a certain schedule for yourself, give or take 30-45 minutes, particularly on nights before you need to wake up for work.
Practice Yoga: A number of yoga exercises have been associated with reducing inflammation and opening up the airways. Yoga breathing techniques are very effective for reducing sleep apnea symptoms, and you can speak with a yoga instructor for take-home exercises as well.
A Final Word of Warning: Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea, and while most of the cases pose no immediate threat to your health and safety, sleep apnea can be a marker for more serious health conditions, and in very rare cases, can even be fatal. If you discover that you suffer from sleep apnea, speak to a doctor about possible treatments. These home remedies are effective, but can also work as complementary treatments to more formal strategies to eliminate sleep apnea.