Sleep apnea is a disorder that results in poor sleep quality due to uncontrollable pauses in breathing, shallow breathing during sleep, and sudden jerky awakenings. During the night, a person with sleep apnea can stop breathing up to 30 times per hour, often for very brief moments and without the person being aware of it. In fact, a frightening discovery is that many people with sleep apnea think they sleep well!
This finding is alarming: it is not only heavy snoring, but a serious medical diagnosis, which can even be life-threatening, and which can lead to various negative symptoms and a decrease in the quality of life. . Because interruptions to normal breathing cause a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain and other parts of the body, people with sleep apnea need to wake up suddenly and breathe in air in order to reopen their airways. The whole process of stopping and restarting breathing associated with sleep apnea can cause symptoms such as loud snoring, choking noises, poor sleep, and feelings of fatigue and anxiety during the day.
Lack of sleep can cost you years of life
Long-term complications of sleep apnea can include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, memory problems, viruses, and sexual dysfunction. Sleep disturbances have also been correlated with car accidents, poor job performance, poor grades in school, and greater susceptibility to colds and flu.
Many people with sleep apnea use a breathing mask to help control symptoms, but this does not stop the underlying issues associated with sleep apnea, including inflammation of the throat muscles. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be treated and prevented by making lifestyle changes, including losing weight, reducing inflammation, improving your diet, and starting to exercise regularly.
6 tips to reduce sleep apnea
1. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
One of the reasons weight gain increases your risk of sleep apnea so much is that you’re more likely to gain weight inside your neck. This affects your throat muscles and your breathing abilities. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to suffer from trouble sleeping, as fat deposits around your upper airways can interfere with normal breathing. Some experts recommend having your collar size and neck circumference measured. If you are a man with a neck circumference of more than 43 centimeters or a woman with a neck circumference of more than 38 centimeters, you have a significantly higher risk of sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, obesity, lack of sleep and sleep apnea seem to be part of a vicious circle, as a lack of sleep can lead to a lack of weight loss. Not only does obesity increase the risk of sleep apnea, but sleep apnea can also contribute to many of the same diseases as obesity. Research shows that sleep apnea has negative effects on multiple organs and systems and is associated with cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, visceral fat deposition and dyslipidemia.
If you are overweight or obese, a reasonable goal to aim for is to lose about 10% of your body weight. This amount has been shown to help reduce symptoms, as it helps prevent your airways from collapsing while you sleep and reduces inflammation around your throat muscles.
2. Avoid excessive alcohol, smoking and overuse of sedatives
Alcohol has been shown to impair sleep quality and can also relax throat muscles, including the uvula and palate, which are needed to help control breathing. Over-the-counter sleeping pills, sedatives, and prescription tranquilizers can have the same effects. This can lead to worsening snoring and other symptoms, as well as increased sleepiness during the day.
Tobacco and alcohol can also contribute to inflammation and fluid retention in the airways, which disrupts normal sleep. Smokers are three times more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea than people who have never smoked, in case you need another reason to quit. Try to quit smoking and, if you drink, plan not to consume drinks at least three hours before bedtime.
3. Treat acid reflux, congestion and cough
Many people with sleep apnea and heavy snoring also have other medical conditions that interfere with normal breathing, including acid reflux/burning in the ears, congestion, and chronic cough. Nasal congestion causes difficulty in breathing through the nose and can worsen symptoms or even contribute to the development of obstructive sleep apnea. In the case of esophageal reflux, it is possible for the acid to reach the throat and the larynx, where it causes irritation and swelling of certain throat muscles. Coughing can also irritate your upper airways and increase snoring. Adjusting your diet, reducing exposure to allergies, and raising your head during sleep can help reduce reflux and congestion.
4. Humidify your bedroom
Some people report less snoring, less congestion, and clearer breathing when they sleep with a humidifier in their bedroom. A humidifier can help encourage your sinuses to drain and move more air through your airways. You can also apply essential oils such as eucalyptus oil to your chest before sleeping to naturally open your airways and relieve a congested nose or throat.
5. Adjust your sleeping position
Elevating your head while sleeping can help reduce snoring. It is also advisable to avoid sleeping on your back, as this position has been shown to aggravate snoring and symptoms as it presses the tongue and palate against the back of the throat. Sleeping on your side using a pillow that keeps your head slightly elevated is usually the best sleeping position for alleviating symptoms of sleep apnea. A second option is to sleep on your stomach rather than on your back.
6. Consider temporarily using a snoring device or sleep device
Although you ultimately want to resolve the issues causing your sleep apnea symptoms, you can temporarily help control snoring by using an over-the-counter device called an “anti-snore” that you insert into your mouth. Snore guards help bring your lower jaw forward slightly and keep your airways more open.
Sleep apnea symptoms
The most common symptoms and signs of sleep apnea are:
– loud snoring, especially if snoring is punctuated by silence (pauses in all breathing and sound)
– always feeling tired or sleepy, even after a full night’s sleep (also called hypersomnia, which is excessive daytime sleepiness)
– waking up suddenly or abruptly and feeling startled by shortness of breath
– experiencing a pause in breathing, pauses in breathing occur more than four to five times per hour and, in severe cases, can occur almost every minute during the night
– other people report that you breathe abnormally during your sleep (stopping and resuming normal breathing or snoring)
– shortness of breath on waking
– nocturnal sweating and frequent urination
– dry mouth, sore throat or bad breath upon waking
– having other sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (insomnia)
– have difficulty concentrating, memory problems and brain fog during the day (and even have trouble driving or doing other tasks)
– being more irritable, anxious and depressed than usual due to lack of sleep
– have lower immune function and a higher risk of other disorders as a side effect of hormonal imbalances.
What causes sleep apnea?
The risk factors for sleep apnea are:
– Obesity and overweight
– In advanced age, sleep apnea is much more common in adults than in children or adolescents, and the risk continues to increase from the age of 45.
– Being a man
– Narrowing of the airways or congestion, the narrowing of the airways can be hereditary or caused by chronic congestion, enlarged tonsils and swelling of the adenoids due to diseases.
– Have a family history of sleep disorders
– Excessive consumption of alcohol and cigarettes
– frequent use of sleeping pills, sedatives or tranquilizers
– Having a history of medical complications, including heart disease, stroke, autoimmune disorders, or thyroid disorders.
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