Sleep apnoea, which is characterised by loud snoring and shallow breaths during sleep, is a chronic condition that affects a large percentage of the population.
People who suffer from sleep apnoea usually have secondary problems that arise, such as insomnia and anxiety, at bedtime.
The condition can be both physically and mentally draining.
But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t steps that can be taken to get a few hours of good, quality sleep each night.
How does it manifest?
Sleep apnoea requires a diagnosis from a medical professional. It can be hard to catch. A good sign is waking up in the middle of the night, breathless. Also, your partner might notice that you snore very loudly, or that you aren’t breathing in your sleep. Sleep apnoea sufferers usually also suffer from obesity, are heavy smokers or have an underlying health condition.
Sleep apnoea can range from mild to dangerous, with extreme cases experiencing “breathing pauses” at night. This is when sufferers, in fact, stop breathing for 10 seconds or more. Some even pause for up to a minute. Some people have experienced even longer pauses.
Types of sleep apnoea include obstructive sleep apnoea, central sleep apnoea and complex sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common, explains Affinity Health. It is when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway. This causes loud snoring that can be disruptive to people in the household, but hardly disturbs the sufferer.
Central sleep apnoea is much less common. It involves the central nervous system. It occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing. People with central sleep apnoea seldom snore, while those suffering from complex sleep apnoea have a combination of obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea.
Bruxism is also a symptom; this is when patients grind their teeth. It can really damage the enamel and in some instances, change the shape of the teeth. This type of damage needs to be examined and treated by a dental professional. Years of suffering sleep apnoea can be horrendous on the teeth and the jaw too. Having dental insurance, like Affinity Dental, can make managing these conditions of the mouth more affordable, especially when suffering from a lifelong condition – multiple examinations can get costly.
There are many natural remedies available to ease yourself into sleep, regardless of sleep apnoea. Many people find relief in merely elevating their head and neck while they sleep.
Instead of lying flat on your back, add a few extra, sturdy pillows. Sleeping in a sort of upright position assists in keeping the airway unobstructed.
Getting some good old sunlight has been proven to help with the sleep cycle (the body’s natural circadian rhythm).
Also, studies have found that patients with sleep apnoea have lower levels of vitamin D.
Medicalopedia explains that deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to symptoms of sleep apnoea, which include muscle pain and mood changes. Most patients report that they feel less tired when their vitamin D levels are increased to the required standard.
Another option is Omega-3 fats supplements. Omega-3 is used to combat stress and tension.
Mixed with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you may start feeling the benefits fairly quickly.
Also, because apnoea is linked to a high BMI, being more active and eating more whole, healthy foods and fruits and veggies will result in some healthy weight loss, particularly around the midline.
Have a sleep schedule
Try to tire yourself out during the day. As much as possible, avoid napping. Also, be sure to be in bed around the same time each night. Make the setting conducive to sleep. Paired with the other interventions (sleep, exercise and a healthy eating plan) it should be easy to fall asleep, stress-free for an adequate amount of hours.
Quit smoking, advises Perfect teeth. Tobacco causes inflammation and swelling in your throat. It is also wise to limit alcohol intake to only special occasions. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles, which leads to snoring and interrupts the sleep cycle, and also contributes to inflammation of your airways, blocking your breathing. Smoking and drinking are generally unhealthy habits, so it will benefit you wholly to limit or even nip it in the bud.