Steps to Stop Sleep Apnea in its Tracks

If you have symptoms of mild sleep apnea, a few lifestyle changes can help stop sleep apnea from progressing. A few steps you can take:

Give Yoga a Try

It is a well-known fact that physical exercise can provide relief from many sleep apnea symptoms. However, some seem to be more effective than others. Many experts believe that yoga could pose a powerful tool.

Not only will yoga help to improve blood flow to the extremities -- to increase your flexibility and to strengthen lean muscle mass -- but it may also have a beneficial impact upon the respiratory system. Regular sessions can increase the capacity of your lungs and the amount of oxygen that your body absorbs.

Keep Your Bodyweight in Check

While sleep apnea can be caused by many factors, one of the most common involves individuals who are overweight. Those with a higher body mass index (BMI) are at a greater risk of suffering from an obstructed airway during sleep. 

Interrupted breathing can begin to manifest as a result. Losing weight may enable you to more effectively manage your symptoms and in some cases, such a lifestyle change could actually reverse the condition itself. 

Consider Sleeping in a Different Position

Experts have known for some time that specific sleeping positions can enhance the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. This is especially relevant for those who regularly sleep on their back; the airway is at a higher risk of closing.

Consult with a sleep specialist in order to determine what alternative positions could provide benefits. Note that there are also certain accessories that can be employed (such as pillows designed for individuals who wish to begin sleeping on their side). 

Eliminate Tobacco and Alcohol

While these bad habits can lead to a host of health issues, they are also known to exacerbate the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. For example, an excessive consumption of alcohol will cause the muscles within the throat to relax. This is obviously an issue for those who are already prone to interrupted sleeping patterns. 

Tobacco and cigarette smoke will also irritate the respiratory system. When inflammation occurs, the throat may be more likely to narrow during the overnight hours. Let's also remember that nicotine is a stimulant; making it difficult to fall and remain asleep. 

Consider a Humidifier

It is a well-known fact that dry air can irritate the mouth, nose and throat. Such environmental conditions will make it much more challenging to alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms. 

Humidifiers are used to increase the moisture content and therefore, to prevent potential inflammation. It could also be wise to add essential oils (such as lavender or peppermint) as these are associated with anti-inflammatory effects. 

Surgical Intervention

While all of the suggestions outlined above have been known to provide substantial amounts of relief, could sleep apnea stop the possible benefits? The answer may be yes if you have already been diagnosed with a more severe form. In this case, surgical intervention may be required. 

Here are two possible solutions:

  • Somnoplasty
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty

Somnoplasty involves trimming excess layers of tissue that are found within your upper respiratory tract. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty will instead ablate tissue located at the back of your throat and around your upper mouth (near the uvula). Note that in some cases, it may also be wise to remove tonsils and/or adenoids. Speak with a sleep specialist to determine if these techniques are suitable for your condition. 

Addressing the Jawline

There are some instances when the position of your lower jaw can affect the symptoms attributed to obstructive sleep apnea. One option here involves a technique known as maxillary advancement to permanently move your jawbone forward. This treatment may also be wise if you suffer from issues such as bruxism (teeth grinding) or a severe overbite. 

Correcting a Deviated Septum

While a deviated septum is a relatively common condition, there are still times when it can lead to sleep apnea. A deviated septum is associated with improperly aligned nasal passages. 

As a result, it can be challenging for the body to receive the amount of oxygen that it requires when breathing through your nose. The good news is that deviated septum surgeries are straightforward and you could very well notice an improvement in your symptoms within a relatively short period of time. 

The Use of a PAP Machine

Perhaps the most well-known treatment for obstructive sleep apnea involves using a positive airway pressure (PAP) device during sleep. A PAP device consists of a base unit, a heated humidifier, a flexible hose and a facemask. 

The main intention here is to provide your body with air at a slightly higher pressure. This will enable your respiratory tract to remain open and therefore, dramatically impact your obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. There are many types of PAP machines available and the best way to learn more is to consult with your physician. 

These are some of the ways in which you can keep your sleep apnea symptoms at bay. In fact, even the home-based remedies outlined above have been known to produce very real benefits. 

It is still important to consult with a sleep specialist. He or she will be able to provide targeted advice so that you can finally obtain a sound night of rest.