How to Treat Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a medical condition wherein you repeatedly start and stop breathing while you sleep. It’s one of the most common sleep disorders experienced by an estimated 22 million adults in the United States. While you might think it’s just an inconvenience that causes you or a partner to snore in your sleep, sleep apnea can be a very severe medical condition.
Living with sleep apnea doesn’t mean resigning yourself to its symptoms or risks. While there are some common treatments you may be familiar with such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, there are also a number of natural ways to treat sleep apnea that may benefit your symptoms, as well. Today we’re taking a look at how to treat sleep apnea using simple lifestyle changes that may make a huge difference.
As sleep apnea can be a serious medical condition, it’s important to consult a medical professional before beginning any form of treatment to ensure it’s safe and effective for you to do so.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea Naturally
There are multiple types of sleep apnea, but the most common by far is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While you may be recommended a CPAP machine to help keep your airways open as you sleep, there are a number of natural ways for how to treat sleep apnea that may work, as well. As sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that could lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and more, finding ways to treat sleep apnea is critical to your overall well being.
A few natural methods for how to treat sleep apnea that you might consider trying are:
- Exercising and being more physically active
- Sitting or sleeping in a reclined position
- Changing sleep positions to sleep on your side
- Cutting out alcohol
- Practicing orofacial and breathing exercises to strengthen upper airway muscles
Sleep Apnea Exercises
The first stop in our exploration of how to treat sleep apnea naturally is with exercise and staying active. The benefits of an active lifestyle have many elements that may help treat sleep apnea. For example, being active and exercising regularly helps improve lung function and strengthens muscles associated with that.
Another way that exercise may work when paired with ways to treat sleep apnea is that it helps you manage your weight. Excess weight can be a risk factor for sleep apnea issues because excess fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct breathing. Leading an active lifestyle may help you maintain a healthy weight and lower the chances of obstructed airways as you sleep.
Using a Recliner Chair for Sleep Apnea
One of the most common ways to treat sleep apnea is to find ways to elevate your head, neck, and upper chest while you sleep or relax. For this, lots of people immediately turn to recliners! Is sleeping in a recliner good for you, though? It can be, depending on which different types of chairs you’re looking at.
For example, a zero gravity chair helps you relax or sleep in a reclined position without adding excess pressure to your pelvic area and lower back the way a traditional recliner does. In the zero gravity position, the legs are elevated above the heart level and weight distributed along the body. This makes them not only potentially effective tools for treating sleep apnea while you sleep, but you may also improve sleep quality if you integrate one into a relaxing night time routine.
Choosing the Best Sleeping Position for Sleep Apnea
Another potentially helpful adjustment you can make as part of how to treat sleep apnea is as simple as changing sleep positions. Those who live with sleep apnea symptoms are more likely to have complications from sleeping flat on their backs.
There are a number of ways to treat sleep apnea by switching to side sleeping instead. One method is using a side sleeping backpack, which is a vest-like bedtime accessory meant to force you to turn to one side or the other while asleep instead of unconsciously rolling onto your back. Others may go a more simplistic route and adjust their pillow position to help them maintain a side sleeping position for sleep apnea treatment.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget that if you’re having a hard time sleeping on a traditional mattress, finding the best recliner for sleeping while at an incline may help improve sleep apnea symptoms, as well.
The Correlation Between Alcohol and Sleep Apnea
While you may be familiar with some more commonly discussed ways for how to treat sleep apnea like quitting smoking, did you know eliminating alcohol may help, as well? Specifically cutting out alcohol in the evening, as it may relax the muscles of the throat, contributing to airway blockage while you sleep.
To prevent this complication, stop drinking alcohol at least a few hours before going to bed. Skipping the nightcap is one of the easiest ways to treat sleep apnea that won’t make a huge impact on your daily routine. Instead of the nightcap, implement a relaxing night time routine before bed like meditating, taking a warm bath, or even journaling to clear your mind. It may help improve sleep quality while avoiding the negative combination of alcohol and sleep apnea symptoms.
Orofacial and Breathing Exercises for Sleep Apnea
Last on our exploration of how to treat sleep apnea is with orofacial and breathing exercises. Breathing exercises aimed at strengthening upper airway muscles are potentially effective ways to treat sleep apnea you can do in just a few minutes before you go to bed each night and may make a huge difference.
Orofacial exercises or sleep apnea focus on muscles that control the lips, soft palate, tongue, and face. Studies have shown that these exercises may help decrease snoring while sleeping and improve symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
We hope that this guide has given you a few simple lifestyle adjustments that may help with how to treat sleep apnea naturally. As sleep apnea can be a very serious medical condition, it’s important to consult a medical professional before beginning any sleep apnea treatment at home to ensure it’s safe and potentially effective for you to do so. Taking control over sleep apnea symptoms may be as simple as being more physically active, choosing a zero gravity chair for better sitting and sleeping positions, or doing exercises aimed at strengthening airway muscles. Give these remedies a try and see which works best for you.
The potential health benefits of zero gravity chairs extend beyond treating sleep apnea symptoms at home. To learn more about these modern recliners, check out these additional resources: