Due to uncontrollable pauses in breathing, taking shallow breaths during sleep and suddenly waking up startled,Sleep apnea always causes poor sleep quality . Someone with sleep apnea might repeatedly stop breathing up to 30 times every hour, often for very brief moments of time and without the person being aware of it at all. In fact, a scary finding is that many people with sleep apnea think that they actually get good sleep!
Missing sleep can take years off people’s life. Long-term complications of sleep apnea can include an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, memory problems, viruses and sexual dysfunction. Sleep disturbances have also been correlated with car accidents, poor job performance, low grades in school and higher susceptibility to common colds and the flu.
Natural Treatment for Sleep Apnea
1. Avoid Smoking, Excessive Alcoholand Overuse of Sedatives
Alcohol has been shown to interfere with sleep quality and can also relax the throat muscles, including the uvula and palate, which are needed to help control breathing. Over-the-counter sleep aids, sedatives and prescription tranquilizers can have the same effects. This can lead to worsened snoring and other symptoms, plus more grogginess during the day.
Both smoking and alcohol can also contribute to inflammation and fluid retention in the airways, which disturbs normal sleep. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who’ve never smoked, just in case you needed another reason to quit. Work on quitting smoking, and if you do drink, plan not to have any drinks at least three hours before going to bed.
2. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
One reason that weight gain increases your risk for sleep apnea so much is because it makes it more likely that you’re essentially gaining weight on the inside of your neck, which affects your throat muscles and breathing capabilities. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to have sleep disturbances since fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct normal breathing. Some experts recommend getting a measurement of your collar size and neck circumference. If you’re a man with a neck circumference over 17 inches (43 centimeters) or a women over 15 inches (38 centimeters), you have a significantly higher risk for sleep apnea.
And unfortunately struggling with obesity, getting poor sleep and having sleep apnea all seem to be a part of a vicious cycle, since a lack of sleep can mean lack of weight loss. Not only does obesity increase sleep apnea risk, but sleep apnea can also contribute to many of the same diseases that obesity does. Research shows that sleep apnea adversely affects multiple organs and systems and is associated with cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, visceral fat deposition and dyslipidemia.
If you’re overweight or obese, a reasonable goal to aim for is losing about 10 percent of your body weight. This amount has been shown to help reduce symptoms because it can help prevent your airways from collapsing while you sleep and reduce inflammation around the throat muscles. Tips for reaching and staying at a healthy body weight include:
Eat a high-fiber diet: Some of the best sources of dietary fiber include fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, sprouted beans or legumes, and ancient whole grains. Aim for at least 25–30 grams daily.
Use healthy fats and eat enough protein: Coconut oil has natural fat-burning effects, plus many more benefits like improving gut health too. Other healthy fats that can help control your appetite include real olive oil, avocado, fats from grass-fed beef, nuts and seeds. Protein foods are satisfying and essential for building muscles as well. Regularly include proteins like cage-free eggs and wild-caught fish in your meals.
Utilize adaptogen herbs: Adaptogen herbs like maca, ginseng and rhodiola can help control health conditions that can make it hard to lose weight (like high amounts of stress, thyroid issues, leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, cellular toxicity and candida).
Get regular exercise: Exercise is a prescription for good sleep. It helps regulate hormones, adds muscle mass, burns calories and can break up nasal congestion. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, most days of the week.
Sneak more exercise in and switch up your routine: Stand more during the day, try burst-training exercises and other forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to keep challenging your muscles, take group classes, add in weight training, and relax with yoga in between workouts.
Try using essential oils for weight loss: Natural oils, including grapefruit, cinnamon and ginger oil, can help control your appetite, hormones and digestive symptoms.
3. Humidify Your Bedroom
Some people report decreased snoring, less congestion and clearer breathing when they sleep with a humidifier in their bedrooms. A humidifier might be able to help encourage your sinuses to drain and more air to move through your airways. You can also rub essential oils such as eucalyptus oil (the same kind used to make Vicks VapoRub) on your chest before sleeping to help naturally open your airways and soothe a stuffy nose or throat.
4. Treat Congestion,Acid Refluxand Coughs
Many people suffering from sleep apnea and heavy snoring also have other medical problems that interfere with normal breathing, including acid reflux/heartburn, congestion and chronic coughs. Nasal congestion leads to difficulty breathing through the nose and can worsen symptoms or even contribute to the development of obstructive sleep apnea.
In the case of esophageal reflux, it’s possible that acid is making its way to your throat and voice box, where it causes irritation and swelling around certain throat muscles. Coughs might also irritate your upper airways and increase snoring. Adjusting your diet, reducing exposure to allergies and raising your head while sleeping can help reduce reflux and congestion.
5. Consider Using a Snore Guard or Sleep Device Temporarily
While you ultimately want to resolve the problems causing your sleep apnea symptoms in the first place, you can temporarily help control snoring by using an expensive, over-the-counter device called a snore guard that you insert into your mouth. Snore guards work by boiling the pliable device and fitting it into your mouth, so it helps bring your lower jaw forward slightly and keeps your airways more open.
Other people who suffer from chronic snoring might choose to use more expensive and permanent devices, such as a mandibular advancement device, which is inserted by a dentist into your mouth and lasts for several years.
6. Adjust Your Sleeping Position
Elevating your head while sleeping might be able to help lower snoring. It’s also a good idea to avoid sleeping on your back, which has been shown to make snoring and symptoms worse because it presses your tongue and palate tissue against the back of your throat.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, sleeping on your side using a pillow that keeps your head slightly raised is usually the best sleep position to alleviate sleep apnea symptoms. A second option is to sleep on your stomach as opposed to your back.
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