As many as twenty-two million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Because this condition is something that occurs at night while the afflicted are sleeping, many people don’t even know that they have it. However, just because someone doesn’t know that they have a condition doesn’t mean that it is harmless.
There are many dangerous side effects of sleep apnea and some of them can even cause death. Fortunately, it can be treated. Natural remedies for sleep apnea can make a huge difference. When applied together, these remedies will help you to get a good night’s sleep, and in the long run, it may even save your life.
If you are someone who snores and who still feels tired after a full night’s sleep, you may have this disorder.
Read on to learn all about sleep apnea and how to combat it for better health.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing for short periods while asleep. Because these people do not take in enough oxygen, they often gasp for air to catch their breath and then they immediately fall back asleep.
Most people who have sleep apnea don’t even realize this has happened to them, and it can happen dozens of times per night.
There are three different types of sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. It occurs when an airway is blocked. Often this is due to the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxing but it can also be caused by chronically clogged nasal passages. Regardless of the cause, this type of sleep apnea causes loud snoring.
Central Sleep Apnea
This type of sleep apnea is far less common. Instead of being the result of blocked airways, it is neurological. Central sleep apnea is the result of the brain’s failure to signal the muscles that control breathing. People with this type of sleep apnea rarely snore.
Complex Sleep Apnea
As its name implies, complex sleep apnea is complicated. It is a combination of the two conditions described above, and it may be more difficult to diagnose.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The main and most obvious symptom of sleep apnea is loud and chronic snoring regularly. Most people who experience obstructive sleep apnea snore every single night.
There are other major warning signs as well. People who suffer from sleep apnea might make choking, snorting, or gasping sounds while they are asleep, and they may experience pauses in breathing that result in them waking up gasping for breath.
Because of the many small sleep interruptions throughout the night, people with sleep apnea are often sleepy during the daytime and feel constant fatigue, no matter how many hours they have slept.
Other minor warning signs include waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, frequent trips to the bathroom at night, and forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. People with sleep apnea may experience restless or fitful sleep and insomnia and may have headaches in the morning.
Some people may become moody, irritable, or depressed due to the fact they are not getting a good night’s sleep. All of the above symptoms suggest that seeing a doctor about a potential sleep apnea diagnosis may be wise.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Although anyone at any age can be diagnosed with sleep apnea, some people are more susceptible to it than others.
The average sleep apnea patient is an overweight male with a family history of sleep apnea. People that experience it more frequently are over the age of fifty, smokers and people with high blood pressure are diagnosed with sleep apnea more than others.
Conditions like a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils, and allergies can also cause sleep apnea. African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Latino people tend to experience sleep apnea more than people of other ethnicities.
What Are the Risks of Sleep Apnea?
Some people may think that sleep apnea is just snoring, however, it is much more dangerous than that. People who suffer from sleep apnea over a long period of time are at a higher risk of heart disease including heart failure, and their immune system may not function optimally.
Further, people with sleep apnea may experience increased memory loss and any mental health problems they may have can be exacerbated by lack of sleep.
If you believe that you may have sleep apnea, you must inform your doctor about it right away.
Natural Remedies for Sleep Apnea
There are many solutions to sleep apnea. Doctors will likely recommend natural remedies for sleep apnea before moving on to more invasive methods like surgery, breathing devices, and medication.
Each of these natural, home remedies can help you to self-treat your sleep apnea. All of them will be helpful on their own, but if used together, you may be able to decrease your experience of sleep apnea enough that you may not even require further medical interventions.
1. Lose Weight
Overweight people have additional tissue in the back of their throat which can block their airway while they are sleeping. Because of this, excess body weight is a primary cause of sleep apnea. Many people find that when they lose weight, their sleep apnea disappears entirely.
2. Quit Smoking
Smoking is bad for you for many reasons, but one of them is the fact that it can cause sleep apnea. The reason for this that sleep apnea increases inflammation and fluid retention in your throat and upper airway, and those things can block the airway. When people with sleep apnea quit smoking, they usually experience some relief from it.
3. Avoid Sedatives and Depressants
Alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives relax the muscles of the throat, and this can result in breathing difficulties at night. These substances are harmful for several reasons and can be even more harmful to people with sleep apnea. It’s best to avoid them altogether and especially before bedtime.
4. Exercise and Practice Yoga
Exercise is always good for you, but maintaining a healthy weight and body can make a huge difference when it comes to managing sleep apnea.
Yoga can be particularly helpful. Because the practice of yoga in part focuses on breathing and on increasing oxygen flow, it can have a great effect. Although yoga training occurs when you are conscious, breathing practices will help you while you are sleeping as well.
5. Use a Humidifier
Dry air can result in greater suffering from sleep apnea. If you live in a dry climate, or if your area is very dry in the wintertime, you can benefit from the use of a humidifier in your bedroom. The addition of moisture to the air in the room where you sleep can make a big difference.
6. Adhere to a Regular Sleep Schedule
If you go to bed and wake up at a different time each day, consider trying to normalize your sleep schedule. A regular sleep schedule will help you to get a good night’s sleep every night, and people who get plenty of sleep tend to have far fewer sleep apnea episodes.
7. Sleep on Your Side
People who sleep on their backs tend to be more susceptible to sleep apnea. The reason for this is the fact that when you sleep that way your tongue and soft tissues can obstruct your airway. Some people only experience sleep apnea when they lie on their backs.
If you can, try to sleep on your side instead. This can make a big difference in your breathing when you are sleeping.
8. Prop Your Head Up
If you are unable to sleep in any other position than on your back, at least try to prop your head up four or six inches. This, too, can help to open your breathing passages and can decrease sleep apnea episodes. The right pillow for sleep apnea could work wonders.
9. Open Nasal Passages
The main cause of sleep apnea is blockage of the airway. There are several things you can do to open your airways and to help your breathing flow more naturally.
A nasal dilator, saline spray, or breathing strips can all assist in opening your airways to help you breathe easier. Regular use of a neti pot can also help.
10. Epsom Salts
If deeper and more satisfying sleep is what you seek, an Epsom salt bath before bed can help. The magnesium in Epsom salts will relax your muscles and will help you to sleep better. More restful sleep can help reduce your sleep apnea struggles.
If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, see your doctor about it right away. These natural remedies for sleep apnea will help you immensely but they are no substitute for a doctor’s care.
A doctor will evaluate you for sleep apnea and then will offer his or her insights and advice on how to proceed. He or she will likely recommend many of the suggestions mentioned in this post, but if your sleep apnea is severe, further treatment may be necessary.
If you’d like to read more about how to get a better night’s sleep for optimum health, please check out our helpful guides.