Sleep apnea is one of the more common sleep-related breathing disorders that affects up to 7% of the U.S. population. The structure of a sleep apnea disorder involves the airway in our throat becoming narrow where our breathing is halted briefly throughout the night. As a result, the body’s oxygen level becomes decreased and it interrupts our normal sleep pattern.
Individuals with sleep apnea generally snore loudly followed by an annoying snort. All this is heard at varying decibels which can be very interrupting for a loved one. If sleep apnea is not properly addressed it can lead to problematic health issues like excessive weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.
Also, when you are not sleeping well at night, it tends to leave you feeling tired and sleepy during the day. Daytime symptoms that stem from intermittent sleep apnea issues can include the following:
- throat is dry or feels tender
- short term memory loss or the lack of concentration
- light mental confusion with the inability to make quick decisions
- mood changes
- depression and irritability
- the inability to make quick decisions
- falling asleep while driving
Up until now, a CPAP device was the standard cure-all solution. A CPAP device is designed to provide a continuous flow of air via a mask or nose piece that is worn during the night. This steady pre-measured air pressure keeps the body’s airway open for normal breathing that enables oxygen to be restored to the lungs.
A CPAP machine prevents the breathing hesitations that occur during sleep apnea events. With new technology, there are alternative solutions available to help people living with sleep apnea. The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following solutions:
Exercising has been proven to be very beneficial for sleep apnea sufferers. However, do not exercise before going to bed. Exercise during the day for a better night’s rest. You don’t need to perform strenuous workouts. Simply take a walk around the neighborhood, go jogging, swimming or biking.
Exercising normalizes the body’s temperature and improves the flow of oxygen needed by the body that is lowered in sleep apnea episodes. There are also nighttime mouth and throat exercises for persons with sleep apnea which are proving to be very helpful to people of all ages.
As a part of the equation of diet and exercise to redress sleep apnea, it is easier to talk about what you should not eat before going to bed and what foods work best for helping with a sleep apnea disorder.
The DOS for foods eaten before going to bed include those with beneficial natural ingredients. This includes melatonin-rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy grains, nuts, and seeds. Tryptophan is another food category that is good to eat to quell the symptoms of snoring with sleep apnea.
This food category includes low-fat dairy products, seafood, nuts, grains, legumes, some leafy greens, and certain fruits like apples. Other food categories that help with sleep apnea are calcium and magnesium-rich foods. This category includes cheese, yogurts, kale, wheat, juices, cereals, avocados, fish, etc.
The DON’TS in foods that affect your sleeping patterns negatively are caffeine products like coffee, soft drinks, and even candy containing artificial sugars. Another food product that contributes to feeling tired can sometimes promote heartburn, and makes you restless, are bananas. You would normally think that bananas are safe to eat at all times. But this fruit tends to increase the amount of mucus in our throat. Thus, the mucus can block the respiratory system when we lie down.
Other foods that can rob you of a good night’s sleep and contribute to sleep apnea symptoms include a delicious steak or other meat dishes. Also, avoid fried foods or fast-food products.
3. Antioxidant Supplements
Taking specific supplements has proven to be great natural remedies to prevent sleep apnea. Supplements that are beneficial antioxidants include vitamins C, D, E, and n-acetylcysteine (NAC). Their purpose is to lessen the build-up of free radicals which are responsible for blood vessel dysfunctions so that you can relax comfortably and your throat can respond normally.
Another supplement supported by physicians and sleeping research organizations is DHA which is a healthy omega-3 fatty acid. DHA protects the body against the type of sleeping stress that sleep apnea causes. A typical type of DHA supplement is in the form of fish oil which is also good in protecting the heart.
4. Laser-assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)
LAUP is an innovative new sleep apnea treatment that greatly reduces snoring. It is a laser surgery where a V-shape cut is made on the soft palate. The soft palate is located in the back of your throat area. You have probably seen pictures of it shown as a little flap hanging down in the back of your mouth.
Its purpose is to keep the airflow operating within your breathing passages, especially where sleep apnea is concerned. LAUP is a safe surgical procedure that is performed under local anesthesia without any hospitalization or the removal of any tissues.
5. Oral Device
A dentist can create a pressurized device that looks like a night guard. It is placed in your mouth before going to bed. Its purpose is to pull the lower jaw forward and support the tongue to keep the throat’s airway open for normal breathing. This customized dental device has proven to reduce snoring and improve sleep apnea symptoms. This oral device is customized to succinctly fit sleep apnea patients.
6. DIY Lifestyle
There are several lifestyle changes that we are responsible for that can help our sleep apnea disorder. For example, ENT specialists contribute excessive weight gain as a major factor in sleep apnea. Lessening our weight gain is a great defense against sleep apnea and its symptoms.
Also, avoid drinking alcohol immediately before going to bed because it acts like a sedative that aggravates your sleep apnea. Cigarette smoking is also a bad idea because research has shown that it increases the severity of intermittent breathing episodes and intense snoring. Smoking also acts as a sedative within the human body.
Outlook on Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea sufferers can look forward to more inventive therapy treatments and better improvements in CPAP-style devices. This sleeping and breathing disorder remains on the research radar with physicians and scientists who are conducting many clinical trials. Also, doctors are creating innovative therapy treatments, healthcare manufacturers are developing assistive breathing devices, and the sleeping industry is testing prevention modalities to prevent sleep apnea.