Sleep apnea is a health issue for millions of people. An estimated 4% of middle age men and 2% of middle age women suffer from the disease, totaling 12 to 18 million people just in America.
The National Institute of Health says sleep apnea is the leading cause of daytime drowsiness and presents a serious threat to safety. It can lead to other diseases including hypertension and heart disease, even stroke.
Sleep apnea is a disruption in breathing to the extent that a person will stop breathing at different times throughout the night, with the heart stopping and starting several times.
There are different causes of sleep apnea. Most causes of sleep apnea relate to a blocking of the upper airway.
There are many possible ways to treat sleep apnea with the most aggressive treatments being surgically-related. There are less invasive approaches including Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices and other medical devices.
Lifestyle changes and home remedies for sleep apnea should be tried first to reduce the debilitating effects of apnea.
These lifestyle changes are link to better sleep and are usually the first step in battling sleep apnea.
4 Types of Home Remedies for Sleep Apnea
Lifestyle changes: exercise and diet
One of the leading causes of sleep apnea is obesity. Being overweight puts extra pressure on the neck muscles and tissues surrounding air passages. Losing weight and general conditioning can have a positive impact on breathing effectiveness.
Sleep apnea has the same effect on many internal organs as obesity including cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.
Weight loss is achieved with a combination of regular exercise – 30 minutes a day or more – and a controlled diet. Exercise burns calories and helps regulate body hormones.
In addition to weight loss exercises, you can do throat exercises to strengthen muscles. This helps prevent sleep apnea by training the body to resist collapsing of soft tissues and resulting blockage of airways.
Diet control consists of eating the right foods in the right quantities and avoiding the wrong ones. Eating high fiber is important, and is found in nuts, seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables.
It’s also a good idea to eat protein and healthy fats. Eggs, meat and fish contain these nutrients. Other foods that help control digestion and fat-burning include the oil of coconuts, olives, and ginger, as well as avocado and grapefruit.
These lifestyle changes link to better sleep and are usually the first step in battling sleep apnea.
Experience the magic of herbs
Many people with sleep apnea don’t realize that certain foods like herbs can have a magical effect on sleep disturbance. Because of this reason, using herbs is one popular example of eating different foods as home remedies for sleep apnea. For example, adaptogen herbs like maca, ginseng and rhodiola can help with weight loss.
Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce swelling and lubricate the throat. It also helps in weight loss programs.
Relaxation techniques help promote sound sleep. Herbs that help the body relax include honey and chamomile, an herb that has sedative properties.
Other relaxation-related herbs include Ayurveda, cinnamon and lavender. Anti-inflammatory herbs also include garlic, peppermint and turmeric. Valerian has been the subject of much research and is notable for being a natural sleep aid as effective as some prescription drugs.
Abstain from sleep-robbing chemicals
There are common chemicals that have become part of everyday living for many people who suffer from sleep disorders like apnea. Many of these chemicals are really drugs that have negative consequences for us, and the connection between them and sleep apnea often go unnoticed. There are many home remedies for sleep apnea that include changing our lifestyle.
For example, coffee, tea and many sodas contain the stimulant caffeine. Drinking these before bedtime causes the body to resist the natural tendency to slow down and approach the sleep cycle that is signaled by our system’s circadian rhythms.
On the flip side, there are chemicals that can slow your metabolism too much, leading to heavy sleep and resulting snoring and apnea.
Alcohol and sedatives like prescription tranquilizers play the role of depressants. They interfere with the muscles and tissues around the throat area and make it difficult to maintain the control needed to keep airways open.
Tobacco and alcohol are both irritants and can dry out airways and increase snoring and apnea. Smokers are much more likely to have sleep disturbances than non-smokers. Some research has the figure as high as three times more likely.
Change sleep habits
It would be difficult to sleep when a parade is going by or a plane is flying overhead. It is also hard to sleep in bright sunlight or if you are thirsty.
These are environmental issues that normally can be controlled. Our bodies have internal controls and body clocks that tell us to be awake during the day and prepare for sleep at night. So we should try to accommodate and support these natural circadian rhythms of day and night as much as possible.
Light and sound have a big impact on our ability to sleep. Our bodies sense darkness as a clue for sleep, and we can support that signal by turning off lights, closing window blinds, pulling down shades, turning off electronic devices, and creating the darkness our bodies crave.
For most people, absolute silence is golden when it comes to time for sleep. For others, there are sounds in the environment that distract them and keep them from entering the sleep state.
To combat the effects of nuisance noise, background sound is scientifically proven to block out unwanted noise and trick the brain into a state of calmness.
Background sound is also called white or pink noise. White noise is compared with the static of an electronic device. Pink noise is the sound of nature like a gentle rain or trickling waterfall.
In either case, the mind becomes more relaxed and the body feels better. We feel the tensions of the day ebbing away with sleep.
To combat dryness, drinking water during the day keeps us hydrated. This helps promote normal bodily functions including swallowing and breathing.
Humidifying the air helps, too. Bedroom humidifiers can be used to keep air moist, and is one example of home remedies for sleep apnea. Keep in mind that humidifiers should be clean to avoid sickness.
Cleanliness extends to other areas of the bedroom, too, including the bed and mattress that need to be clean and allergen-free.
Something as simple as body position can be the most important element of sleep control. People with sleep apnea have difficulties in maintaining a natural flow of air, and the position of the head and neck play a major role in that process.
Often, just raising your head or sleeping on your side can make a huge difference in the ability to get a good night’s sleep. There is a lot of research on sleep positions. Anyone with apnea is familiar with the struggles of finding a good sleep position.
There are tricks to help side-sleepers maintain that position throughout the night.
If these home remedies for sleep apnea aren’t enough to help you sleep better, it might be time to consult a physician about more aggressive steps to take, which might involve medical devices like CPAP machines or even surgery.
Sound sleep is too important for your overall health and happiness to ignore.