Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing is frequently interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea results in the breathing becoming very shallow often resulting in a person being kept in a light sleep because their natural sleep rhythm meets with interference.
It can also cause the person to gasp for breath suddenly. It’s not unusual for the person to completely stop breathing several times throughout the night.
This can be very alarming to those around the person and in fact, more than one partner has jostled a person with sleep apnea awake or at least told them to stop snoring or breathe.
The condition can cause both partners to lose a lot of sleep and if it’s left untreated it often gets worse. It can be bad enough to have one partner walking around like a sleep zombie, but to have both of them in this state is even worse.
There are three basic types of sleep apnea that can affect people. Treatment for sleep apnea will depend upon the type of sleep apnea that a person has.
A doctor or a partner may notice which kind the person has but it should always be medically evaluated for an accurate diagnosis.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. It happens when throat tissue loosens up and obstructs the airway, which results in loud snoring and trouble breathing.
The person may start and stop snoring throughout the entire night often disrupting their own sleep. Often they won’t even realize that they’re snoring and just assume that they keep waking up.
Their partner however may make many efforts to stop their snoring. It is very disruptive and no one will be getting any restorative sleep when this is going on.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to keep up their work regarding breathing control. This type of sleep apnea rarely presents with snoring. It is more likely to present with a sudden stopping of the breathing and then a sudden gasp for breath.
The person will continue to do this throughout the night and it may happen every few minutes resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain. This can in turn cause a myriad of symptoms that will greatly affect the person during their waking hours.
This is also a very dangerous form of sleep apnea as the person can stop breathing for a length of time. The longer the person goes without breathing the more dangerous this type of sleep apnea becomes.
The final type is complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of the first two types. It may vary from night to night or it may be that the person cycles through both variations throughout the entire night without fail.
Regardless, it will take its toll on the person affected with it as well as the partner. A doctor is the best person to diagnose any type of sleep apnea. There are many things that can be done to help reduce sleep apnea and to treat it.
Those who deal with sleep apnea typically feel tired and fight that feeling while driving or while sitting at work. It’s not unusual for them to nod off periodically and to suffer from irritability, depression, health issues, memory issues, learning problems, mood swings and even a dry mouth or sore throat.
Often the symptoms are attributed to other medical conditions and thus are left untreated leaving the person to decline in health rapidly.
While it is important to treat other symptoms, finding the root cause of any symptom is vital to treating the actual condition and getting results from such treatment.
It’s not unusual for the person to not recognize that they are lacking sleep. They may be difficult to deal with and attribute that to other mood disorders.
Why Use Natural Remedies to Combat This Condition?
Since the issue occurs at home while you are sleeping, some people prefer to find natural remedies that can help rather than attempting surgeries or medical interference from the get-go.
People find that they feel better after beginning the use of a natural remedy. This then prevents the need for the next step, which would be one of several surgeries.
It is important to seek help however as both the person suffering from sleep apnea, as well as their partner, are affected by the condition. Sleep apnea can cause a myriad of other health issues and lower the person’s immune system as a result. The longer the condition is left untreated, the worse it’s going to be on both partners.
Machines for Home Treatment
Oral Appliances are not always effective for central sleep apnea sufferers. For obstructive sleep apnea, however, these devices can help to keep the soft tissue from blocking the airway.
It keeps the jaw in a forward position and ensures an open airway for the apnea patient regardless of sleep position. This has been found successful for patients who had lower BMI and also those with craniofacial retrognathism.
Examples of these oral appliances cover a wide spectrum. Prices vary from around $3 to $14, with a jump to the $60 to $99 range and can be as high as $434 for a kit to deal with snoring and apnea.
The devices typically are a type of retainer that fits into the mouth as a sleep guard or works as a nose clip to cut down on snoring and issues with sleep apnea.
Brands include No Snore, Hotsell, Snore Doctor, Sound to Sleep, Neoproducts and any number of other brands that report success with their products in helping people to beat sleep apnea and once again get a good night’s sleep.
Night Shift is a monitor worn on the back of the neck. When a person rolls onto their back, the device begins to vibrate. The vibration increases in intensity until the person once again rolls to another sleeping position.
This is not ideal for those with neck and shoulder pain or those who have a pacemaker. However, other patients have found the use of this device to greatly reduce their issues and help them improve the quality of their night’s sleep.
C Pap Machines
A doctor might order a sleep study where the patient has to sleep in a controlled environment for a night or with a special apparatus connected to them at home overnight. Depending upon the results a doctor may order a C pap machine.
This machine has a mask that the patient will wear over his or her face overnight. The mask is connected to a machine that will force the oxygen into the patient’s mouth and throat forcing them to breathe while sleeping.
It greatly reduces the sleep apnea and will offer the patient some restorative rest. While it’s not an actual medication, it is considered a prescription and thus not a natural remedy. It does however work.
The machine, unfortunately, is rather loud and if it’s not used on a nightly basis it won’t help the condition. Worse, the heavy tube, mask and machine will virtually hold the person hostage during the night.
If the person must get up to use the restroom or get a drink of water, they must first remove all of the equipment before they can get out of bed.
Although this can be a hassle, it does work and is something to consider. Since it’s not a medication it is a viable option for those who aren’t against such methods of treatment.
However, consideration should be given to the patient’s partner who will have to adjust to the sound of the machine. Some newer machines are much quieter than previous models.
Natural Treatments For Sleep Apnea
Weight Loss tops the list because it has been shown to be very effective in cutting down on the symptoms related to sleep apnea.
Patients who suffered from sleep apnea and successfully began losing weight saw a large number of their sleep apnea symptoms disappear as well.
Healthy diet and exercise can help with the weight loss and can be beneficial to deal with sleep apnea symptoms as well.
Try to eat a healthy well balanced diet and focus on eating from the four basic food groups. Add in some walking as well to help keep the muscles toned and the body functioning properly.
Vitamin And Mineral Supplements
Vitamin D is helpful for those who deal with sleep apnea, as higher levels of Vitamin D have been shown to decrease or even resolve many symptoms of sleep apnea.
This can be gained through a supplement or simply by spending more time out in the sunshine during the daylight hours.
Magnesium helps regulate muscles, so the mineral can be helpful to the muscles of the upper throat during the night.
This decreases your risk of snoring and increases your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Magnesium can be found as a supplement and in some foods you eat.
Changing your sleeping position from being a back sleeper to being a side sleeper can make a significant difference in the likelihood you will snore and therefore help you to get a better night’s sleep.
Sleeping on your back pushes your chin toward your chest, particularly if you use a large number of pillows. If you have tried to sleep on your side and simply cannot change your habit, consider cutting down on the number of pillows you use at night.
Allowing your neck to rest at a natural angle can also help to decrease the symptoms of sleep apnea that present during your siesta. You can also sew a few tennis balls into your favorite pajama shirt on the back to keep you from lying on your back. This trick works very well at keeping you on your side.
Get a New Pillow
Changing Pillows can help by cutting down on the amount of allergens under your head during your nightly snooze. Some people find that snoring is exacerbated by dust and other contaminants, like dead skin cells.
Getting new pillows will ensure you aren’t sleeping on a significant amount of these allergens, which can build up significantly over time. You can also change your pillow case more often which will also help to reduce the dead skin cells that slough off of your skin naturally. This can also help you to get more restorative sleep.
Buteyko is another option, one that has received very mixed reviews. The process involves learning how to retrain your breathing.
The hope is that the series of breathing exercises will help the individual while asleep by retraining their method of breathing during the waking hours.
Doctors find this doubtful as a method that could be successful, because individuals revert to their regular breathing pattern during sleep, regardless of what they have trained themselves to do while awake.
Certain enthusiasts for the Buteyko program swear they are breathing better, sleeping better and no longer require treatments like the CPAP machine (see above).
Still, doctors maintain that any change that may occur is temporary, and the individual will most likely revert to the same issues they had previously before too long.
Doctors share concern in particular regarding those with moderate sleep apnea that could have serious consequences from opting for a program like Buteyko rather than a scientific-reinforced method of treatment.
Doctors say that holistic remedies are worse than no treatment for these individuals, as they feel they are receiving treatment but it is not effective and therefore can put their lives in danger.
The doctors also say that research has been done in a limited capacity regarding Buteyko, but only when it comes to asthma. It has not been researched as an effective treatment for sleep apnea.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a foot massage to help ease symptoms and help you to drift off to sleep without apnea. All of your nerve endings are in your feet and thus you can help to manipulate them by massaging them.
Another approach to dealing with sleep apnea is to use reflexology. This means incorporating a period of applying pressure to certain points on the body into your day. These pressure points provide energy to the body and allow the energy to travel more effectively, which helps the body heal efficiently and keeps the energy zones balanced.
For the situation involving sleep apnea and waking too often during the night, the recommendation is to use a foot massage, focusing on the reflex points for insomnia.
Those points include the brain area at the top of your big toe and the next two toes on the foot, the solar plexus reflex point just below the ball of your foot, the spinal reflexes on the inside arch of the foot and the area from the sole of the foot to the base of the toes, with special attention to the grooves between the toes. Also, stroke gently over the top of the feet.
The pressure should be applied to the various areas for five to six minutes per area, and it should be done shortly before you plan to go to sleep for the night. This will help you get a restful night’s sleep.
Other Resources To Deal With Sleep Apnea
There are certain sleep therapy systems that are available, usually at the recommendation of a doctor, that can be worn during sleep to ensure you have an open airway and do not continually wake yourself with snoring. When these remedies do not show significant improvement, it may be time to try surgery.
The Provent Sleep Apnea Therapy is like band aids over each nostril; the Winx Sleep Therapy System puts a small mouthpiece into the mouth of the sleep apnea sufferer and creates suction to open the throat for efficient breathing while you sleep and another device that is similar to a pacemaker that will stimulate the nerve that controls the tongue muscles is still awaiting approval from the FDA.
Other methods include using a strip over the nose to help keep the nostrils open and the person breathing more normally.
This is very helpful when someone has a cold or virus that involves a lot of sniffling and sneezing. It is amazing how something so simple can be so beneficial to helping reduce sleep apnea and allowing everyone to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep apnea is a condition that can be treated with the help of certain lifestyle changes, like changing how you sleep and how many pillows you use, regularly getting new pillows and also utilizing devices like oral appliances to help you get a better night’s sleep.
If those methods do not prove effective, certain sleep therapies can be used, or surgery should be considered.
If you smoke, stop smoking. Every little lifestyle change that you do for health reasons is a good step in the right direction to help alleviate sleep apnea. If you are a drinker you may also consider reducing your alcohol intake prior to sleeping.
This can be very disruptive to your sleep and may cause you to stop breathing or snore more frequently than usual.