Sleep apnea is a medical condition that impairs breathing during sleep, causing sleepiness and other health complications. An apnea episode involves a cessation of airflow for 10 to 20 seconds can occur hundreds of times per night. Thankfully, there are several lifestyle changes that can reduce or eliminate your sleep apnea.
Quitting smoking can often relieve breathing issues associated with obstructive sleep apnea, since smoking increases respiratory inflammation and fluid retention in your airway. Your doctor can suggest programs and products to help you quit smoking. Additionally, avoiding alcohol, sedatives, and sleeping pills can also alleviate sleep apnea, as these substances relax respiratory muscles and can impair breathing, especially when taken before sleeping.
Losing weight and exercising are also helpful ways of reducing your sleep apnea. Especially if you are overweight or obese, weight loss can dramatically improve breathing issues and lessen your risk of other health concerns. Losing excess weight can reduce extra throat tissue that may block airflow into the lungs during sleep. Similarly, increased physical activity is also important to develop healthy muscle tone in the lungs and airway. Even 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week can alleviate sleep apnea symptoms.
Adjusting your sleeping posture can further relieve issues associated with sleep apnea. Sleeping on your back generally makes your tongue and soft palate rest against the back of your throat, blocking your airway. To ensure that you sleep on your side, try sewing a tennis ball inside a sock to the back of your pajama top. Elevating your head with a foam wedge can also reduce snoring and other breathing issues.
Finally, keeping your nasal passages open at night may also reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Saline sprays, breathing strips, neti pots, decongestants, and antihistamines can temporarily improve nasal airflow and breathing. Ultimately, these remedies can substantially improve your health and relieve sleep apnea. See your doctor to address more serious symptoms of sleep apnea and to explore other medical treatments.