5+ Best Home Remedies for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by an interruption in breathing, or shallow breathing, while an individual sleeps. The interruptions happen throughout the night and may take about 10 to 15 seconds without the sleeping person being aware of it happening. As a result, this can raise the carbon dioxide level in the bloodstream.
Sleep apnea affects the heart in multiple ways as well, again as a result of when a sleeping person momentarily stops breathing at night (or during a nap). The heart rate slows down, which can ultimately decrease your heart's ability to work, potentially resulting in heart disease and/or heart failure.
People with sleep apnea can't get enough oxygen, causing them to gasp and frequently wake up. Sleep apnea has become a substantial health issue in the United States for many years and has become a widespread condition throughout the country.
The use of alcohol or sedatives can make sleep apnea worse, as the brain fails to send signals to the breathing muscles and can further complicate obstructive sleep apnea.
This health condition has become quite common among adults. It has unfortunately become more common among children as well. Leaving this condition untreated can lead to severe health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
3 Types of Sleep Apnea
As with nearly any health condition, sleep apnea does not affect each person the same way. In fact, there are three different types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea, caused by an airway blockage, as the throat muscle relaxes. People of any age can be affected. That being said, it is more common among adults around 40 and above, particularly among men who are overweight or obese.
Central Sleep Apnea (or CSA) is a little different than OSA, the most common form of the condition. By contrast, CSA happens when the brain fails to transmit signals to the muscles that control breathing. CSA affects less than 1% of people.
Complex Sleep Apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea (OSA and CSA). With each apneic event, the brain triggers the sleeper to continue breathing. For people with severe sleep apnea, this can often occurs throughout an entire night's sleep. The results can affect every aspect of life, due to sleepiness, drowsiness, and exhaustion as a result of lack of proper sleep.
Health Risks and Factors for Sleep Apnea
As you might imagine, since sleep apnea does not affect everyone equally... Not all individuals are equally likely to suffer from the condition either. There are a number of indicators and risk factors that may result in some people being more likely to experience sleep apnea than others.
Some of the main health risk factors for sleep apnea tend to include the following:
- Older age (females' risk also increases after menopause)
- Obesity or being overweight
- Being a male (2-3x more likely than females to develop sleep apnea)
- Family history of sleep apnea
If any one (or more) of these indicators is true for an individual, they may be at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea in their lifetime.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
There is a wide variety of signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea. The most familiar signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are the following:
- Loud snoring
- Morning headaches
- Attention problems
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Tired in the morning
- Difficulty concentrating during the day.
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Waking up gasping or choking
- Sore throat
- Episodes of breathing cessation
- Awakening at night together with a short breath
- Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep
- Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
Sleep Apnea: Sleep Study and Diagnosis
Sleep Apnea may be diagnosed by assessing symptoms and risk factors. Some assessments may involve overnight monitoring of your sleeping and other body activities while sleeping.
The standard test for sleep apnea is polysomnography, also called sleep study. In polysomnographic tests, you are observed overnight while connected to a number of medical sensors.
During this study, the following information is recorded:
- Sleep stages
- Heart rate
- Blood oxygen level
- Respiration rate
- Brain and muscle activity (waves and breathing)
- Eye movements
- Leg movements
- Audio recording (to track snoring volume)
Home Sleep Apnea Testing (HSATs)
HSATs, also called portable monitoring or an out-of-center sleep test, are diagnostic home sleep tests professionals and doctors use to identify obstructive sleep apnea.
Whether an individual is suffering from mild sleep apnea or severe sleep apnea, or something in between, ultimately gets determined by the number of apneic episodes that occurs per hour.
- Average - 0 to 5 apneic episodes per hour
- Mild - 5 to 15 apneic episodes per hour
- Moderate - 16 to 30 apneic episodes per hour
- Severe - more than 31 apneic episodes per hour
(While an at-home sleep apnea test won't record all the same information as a polysomnogram at a sleep clinic, you will be able to roughly determine the number of apneic events your body experiences per hour. This number, on its own, can be very helpful in determining the extent of your sleep apnea.)
5+ Best At-Home Remedies for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can have deleterious effects on your body, but not just at night. The condition will often go beyond affecting the quality of your sleep to creating negative conditions for your everyday life.
But there is good news! Thankfully, there are a number of at-home remedies for sleep apnea that can help you deal with the condition over time. While getting professional medical help is always the best way to go, natural remedies to treat sleep apnea can also be done in the comfort of your own home.
1. Maintain a nutritious diet and healthy weight.
The doctor's number one recommendation is weight loss. It's a big one. If an individual can bring their total body weight down, it'll go a long way toward improving their health — both sleep and daily life.
Overweight people become more prone to sleep apnea. Because of the extra soft tissues or excess weight around the head and neck, it can be hard to get proper airways for unrestricted nasal passage.
Maintaining a good weight can reduce sleep apnea symptoms, by helping you get clear airways, and bring back your normal breathing for proper ventilation and continuous positive airway pressure. It may also prevent the necessary of upper airway surgery for proper breathing during sleep.
Lifestyle changes are a great place to start. They can greatly impact your overall health. Removing excess body weight can also increase energy levels. Considering starting by introducing healthy foods into your diet and burning calories extra calories with a daily walk.
2. Avoid too much alcohol intake and smoking.
As we all know by now, the effects of smoking on the human body are widespread and disastrous. Alcohol further causes the throat muscles that handle your breathing to relax, making it potentially more likely for the upper airway to collapse.
Ready for another ugly smoking fact? Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea, when compared to individuals that have never smoked in their lives. Put bluntly, regular smoking causes the respiratory system to crash hard, making breathing more difficult, especially while sleeping.
Stop smoking as soon as possible. Easier said than done, of course, but it's a must for good health and a long life, not to mention mitigating your sleep apnea. Consider also limiting your alcohol consumption. Sleep apnea is a serious condition, but these changes can go a very long way.
3. Change up your sleeping position.
A person's sleeping position plays an essential part in having a good night’s sleep. With that in mind, consider another sleeping position and changing it up. If you routinely sleeping on your back, try sleeping on your side instead. This simple change may reduce sleep apnea symptoms by getting enough air through your passageways.
Research shows that side-sleepers experience less severe sleep apnea than those sleeping in a supine position (on the back, face upwards), which is generally considered to be the worst sleeping position for apneic individuals. This is in part because gravity pulls down on the tongue during rest, resulting in a blocked airway, and thereby resulting in sleep-apneic episodes.
4. Try oral appliances at night.
Some sleepers grind their teeth at night because their airways collapse in a night of deeper sleep, a potential cause for sleep apnea. Ask your dentist about a sleep apnea device or mandibular advancement devices to deal with these symptoms at home.
Mouth guards and mandibular devices are potential solutions for snoring that are intended to keep you from engaging in a grinding motion and clenching your jaw during sleep (another very common condition these days).
Basically, the devices are like mouth guards (like a boxer, but way more comfortable) that keep your lower jaw from falling back — generally made by using a mold that fits your specific mouth and jaw shape for the highest degree of comfort level.
5. Invest in CPAP therapeutic devices.
Strictly speaking, this may not be a "home remedy", but CPAP masks (continuous positive airway pressure masks) are the single most common and effective treatment options for sleep apnea patients — and they are used at home, which is why we include them on this list.
A CPAP mask is essentially a covering that you put over your face and mouth, which then pushes out air and opens your breathing airways. It works in conjunction with a CPAP machine. CPAP treatment can give you a more comfortable and better sleep night after night, when used safely and properly, with the help of a medical professional.
6. Use a humidifier at home.
We have one extra home treatment for sleep apnea: a good old-fashioned humidifier. Get a nice humidifier at home and add in essential oils that have soothing benefits to improve your sleep quality.
Dry air can annoy the respiratory system and the body. It also decreases nasal congestion. Humidifiers, of course, add moisture to dry air, thereby aiding in the body's natural efforts to breathe properly during the day and at night.
The solutions on this page are some of the traditional treatments and effective ways you can use to potentially reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea episodes at night. Naturally, if these measures don't improve your symptoms, several other available treatments can be used.
Surgery may be recommended after all other treatments have failed. Surgical options may include implants, tissue removal, repositioning of the jaw, or even creating a new passageway for air and breathing. For central apnea, treatments may include supplemental oxyge, adaptive servo-ventilation, and bilevel positive airway pressure.
To recap, here are some of the best home remedies for sleep apnea, as suggested by medical professionals:
- Maintaining a healthy diet and healthy weight
- Avoid too much alcohol intake and smoking
- Change Sleeping Position
- Using oral appliances
- CPAP Therapy
- Use of humidifier
Remember that three types of sleep apnea exist, making solutions unique to each individual: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea, and Complex Sleep Apnea. Also keep in mind that visiting a doctor and conducting a sleep test is always the best way to treat sleep apnea. Leaving this condition untreated may result in other negative health conditions over time.
If you're considering trying a new sleeping position, we also recommend checking out our lineup up of organic sleep systems. We have organic pillows and organic mattresses, both of which can offer a better night's sleep, night after night after night.