According to the sleep foundation, up to 30% of men and women worldwide have suffered at least once from sleep apnea (statistically speaking, more men than women suffer from it). Although this disorder is not deadly, it can detrimentally affect one’s life. It manifests in sleep when a person’s breathing is interrupted a few times during the night. If it’s ignored and left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to many other health problems, such as hypertension, diabetes or cardiomyopathy. And even if someone has no physical problems from sleep apnea, they can still develop mental health issues.
Besides the usual treatment, which is usually CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or supplemental oxygen, some practices will help you ease apnea symptoms and get back on track along with your medical care. With the help of such devices that will regulate your breathing through the night, here’s what else you should try.
Avoid unhealthy foods
Sleep apnea is usually caused by the muscles in the back of your throat that relax ―as a result, your airway narrows. Although you can’t control this, you can do something about it, especially when someone notices you snoring too much or loudly. Take a look at your lifestyle and analyze your current eating habits. Do you eat a lot of processed foods and don’t make enough physical effort? This fatal combination might worsen the symptoms, so you should consider changing your diet and seeing how you feel and how your body reacts.
Given that people who suffer from obesity are prone to developing sleep apnea more than anyone else, it’s best to avoid consuming too much fat because fat deposits can obstruct your breathing, especially when they’re forming around your upper airway. Other factors that might affect your sleep apnea include smoking, drinking, and being older, which is why it would be best to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Sleep apnea can also be triggered by plenty of reasons, including:
- A narrow throat
- A round head
- Deviated septum
If you suffer from any issues above, it’s indispensable to have a healthy lifestyle and watch what you’re consuming. Otherwise, you might find that you unintentionally provoke your illness to develop.
Change your sleep routine
Since sleep apnea starts in your sleep, you may want to change your environment and routine to see if there are any improvements. And given that its symptoms include daytime sleeping, fatigue and frequent nighttime awakenings, you may need to do something about it.
To begin with, you could make your room darker at night, decrease the temperature to around 19°C (66 °F) and install a humidifier to add moisture to the air. These can make your sleep deeper so all sleep cycles will be completed. Then, make sure you’re comfortable: have clean sheets and wear moisture wicking pajamas to help you avoid getting too hot during a night’s sleep.
Another thing you can do is change your sleep hours. It’s recommended that you go to sleep and wake up at the same hour every day, even on weekends, so try to stick to a schedule, and you may notice some upgrades in your sleep quality.
Yoga is one of the most accessible and fun sports to perform, and you don’t need special equipment or clothes for it. You can do it from the comfort of your home, in front of your phone, by following other people’s exercises and developing a routine. And although any other form of sport can help you strengthen your heart’s vitality, yoga is known to improve respiratory health and encourage oxygen flow. It is also known to have plenty of other benefits, such as:
- Becoming a mindful eater. Practising yoga will help you develop mindfulness, which makes you more present in your daily life and more aware of what you consume; therefore, you may become warier of how you feel when you’re full or when you’re eating as a coping mechanism;
- Maintaining your weight. Being balanced in how you eat and exercising regularly can help you manage a healthy weight and, if you consider it necessary, lose weight quickly and in a healthy way;
- Having more confidence in yourself. Yoga not only allows you to be healthy, but it can also shape your body beautifully, so you’ll become bolder and more confident in yourself;
Waking up in the middle of the night can make people anxious and scared. And since sleep apnea is not that easy to treat, you may want to find a way to feel less stressed and worried about your health. It’s also proven that meditation can reduce stress, manage anxiety and depression and fight most addictions.
So, find a comfortable place in your home. Sit down with your eyes closed, and just let your thoughts wander around. Practice this exercise until you can abstain from switching from one idea to another and start noticing that you can better focus on day-to-day issues. It’s okay if you can’t do it on the first try. Meditating is like a book that you’re trying to understand ―it has many layers, and the only thing you have to do is to discover them slowly.
You can also find many guides on YouTube or other platforms to teach you what is the correct path when it comes to controlling your thoughts. We recommend the “Goodful” channel with various clips of guiding meditation for five, 10, or 15-minute meditation for when you’re feeling angry, anxious or just needing healing. Or, you might prefer listening to calming music for meditation, which can help your brain shift in the right direction. Regardless, don’t be discouraged on the first try! This is a long-going journey.
Dealing with sleep apnea is challenging for anyone, but you can still do something about it to ease the symptoms besides following the prescribed treatment. So, try adopting a healthy lifestyle by eating more nutritious meals, developing a strict sleep routine and exercising more often. In time, your apnea will alleviate, and your lifestyle will improve.