If, like millions of Americans, you get plenty of sleep but are still waking up tired, there’s a chance you have sleep apnea – even if you don’t know it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is characterized as a sleep disorder in which breathing intermittently stops throughout the night, interrupting sleep. Many people with sleep apnea snore loudly, while also sporadically making “snorting” noises, which occurs when breathing stops and starts back up again. This may happen dozens of times throughout the night.
When breathing slows or stops at night, the brain is awoken in order to restart breathing. Though the person may not fully wake up, or may not remember if they do, it is enough to disrupt sleep and hinder one’s everyday life.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea are:
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Dry mouth/throat
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
How Can I Treat Sleep Apnea?
The CPAP machine is the most common way to treat sleep apnea. The mask goes over your face while you sleep, and regulates your breathing. However, many people find this method to be uncomfortable and loud, which can obviously hinder sleep quality.
If this doesn’t sound right for you, there are multiple effective ways to manage sleep apnea outside of the CPAP machine.
Sleep on Your Side: Many people with sleep apnea have what is known as positional sleep apnea. Sleeping on your back can cause your airways to become obstructed, which can be prevented by sleeping on your side. However, many people switch back to sleeping on their back once already asleep. There are a few ways to prevent this.
- Sewing Tennis Balls on the Back of a T-Shirt: As silly as this may seem, this can be effective to keep you from rolling on your side!
- Positional Sleep Pillows: If sewing tennis balls to your shirt seems uncomfortable, you may want to consider a positional pillow. These can either keep you from rolling on your back, or lift your chest to keep airways clear.
- Mouth Guards: These keep your tongue positioned properly to keep your airways open.
Lifestyle Changes: There are many lifestyle changes you can make to lessen the effects of sleep apnea, or make it go away all together. Many of these factors can make sleep apnea worse:
- Weight: Sleep apnea is directly correlated to one’s weight. Many times, by losing weight, one can stop their sleep apnea.
- Alcohol and Tobacco Use: Alcohol and tobacco can make the effects of sleep apnea worse, so consider cutting down on your intake of these substances
- Prescription Medications: Many prescription medications can make sleep apnea worse, especially muscle relaxers that may leave you vulnerable to not waking up enough when breathing stops.
If you or a loved one are suffering from sleep apnea, consider clinical research! Please fill out your information in the form below.