Sleep apnea is characterized by short periods of stopped breathing while sleeping. If you have sleep apnea The Woodlands, your body does not take enough oxygen, causing you to gasp and wake up several times at night. The periods of stopped breathing are usually so brief that you don’t realize when they happen and believe you have a normal sleep cycle. Besides interfering with the quality of your sleep, sleep apnea can cause serious health complications. For example, without treatment, this condition can contribute to memory loss, trigger mental health issues, cause poor immune function, and increase your risk of heart failure.
Stay within a healthy weight
Carrying excess body weight, especially excess fat in or around the neck, increases your likelihood of developing sleep apnea. Being overweight in your upper body puts you at risk of narrow nasal passages and airway obstruction, which can disrupt your breathing suddenly or for lengths of time while sleeping. But when you lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight, you can clear your airways and reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Weight loss requires commitment and discipline since it does not occur overnight. Some steps to lose weight include engaging in regular physical activity, reducing your processed food intake, and limiting the consumption of high-sugar beverages.
Sleep on your side
More than half of obstructive sleep apnea cases depend on sleep position; sleeping on your back or the supine position can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. If you are used to sleeping on your back, you can use a body positioning pillow or another similar device to avoid the supine position. If you have sleep apnea, you are most likely to have episodes of stopped breathing when you sleep on your back. Try using a side sleeping backpack – a vest-like clothing item with a bulging part on the back. The back side of this garment ensures that you maintain the side position by making it uncomfortable to sleep on your back. You can also make your positioner by sewing a tennis ball or another round object at the back of your pajamas, so you don’t turn while sleeping.
Elevate the head of your bed
Raise the head of your bed at an angle of about 60 degrees; this may help reduce the number of sleep apnea episodes. This is especially helpful if your sleep apnea symptoms worsen when you lie on your back but find it difficult to sleep on your side. You can also achieve this position by sleeping in a bed or chair that has an adjustable upper section. Using a pillow or purchasing a body wedge for your torso are other alternatives to keep your head elevated.
Make healthy lifestyle changes
Besides lifestyle changes that promote weight loss, other changes like limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking can reduce sleep apnea complications. Alcohol worsens sleep apnea symptoms by relaxing the throat muscles that control your breathing, leading to snoring and an interrupted sleep cycle.
If your sleep apnea symptoms do not improve with the above remedies, visit your doctor at Scott Young, DDS, for treatment.
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