When you have sleep apnea, you may be willing to try just about anything reasonable to get a good night’s sleep. While medical treatment can be crucial for your overall wellness and for staving off complications such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack, lifestyle measures can help significantly, too.
If you have mild sleep apnea, making some adjustments to your lifestyle may be all you need or at least can help prevent your condition from worsening. Consider the following tips, and be sure to talk to your doctor before making lifestyle changes or attempting to manage symptoms on your own.
Reach and maintain a healthy weight
Carrying excess pounds is a risk factor for developing sleep apnea in the first place. Especially if weight gathers around your neck and jaw, breathing well at night can become difficult.
By slimming down, you reduce pressure on your airway, meaning you can sleep and breathe more soundly. Aim for gradual, steady weight loss through a healthy diet and moderate exercise most days.
Limit or avoid alcohol and certain drugs
Alcohol relaxes your central nervous system, which can cause muscles in your throat to relax as well. This alone can cause a type of sleep apnea, so if you already have the condition, it may be best to cut back or avoid alcoholic drinks completely.
Certain drugs — such as benzodiazepines, alprazolam, and chlordiazepoxide — can have similar effects. If you take such a medication, talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.
If you smoke, having sleep apnea is one important reason to quit the habit. Smoking damages your blood vessels and lungs in many ways. If you quit, you can breathe easier almost immediately during the day and night. If you struggle to quit on your own, seek guidance and support from your health care provider.
Take up yoga
Yoga can help strengthen your throat muscles, which in turn helps your airways stay open during sleep. While more research is needed, some studies suggest that an appropriate yoga routine can reduce the severity of sleep apnea because of these perks.
In one study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, participants who did throat exercises daily for three months snored less and had a greater reduction in neck circumference compared to the control group, which showed almost no improvement.
Manage stress and anxiety
If you struggle with ongoing stress, anxiety, or both, finding ways to better manage your symptoms can also help minimize the effects of sleep apnea. Steps that may help include cultivating a meditation practice, playing calming music before bedtime, aiming for a healthy sleep routine, and talking to loved ones or a therapist about your challenges.
Make your bedroom more sleep-friendly
You’re more likely to sleep well if your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet. Using a fan to drown out potential background noise may help, as can using a sleep mask if light tends to shine in through windows or other rooms. Your bedroom ideally should be a place for rest and intimacy, not work or TV watching, so keep devices such as your laptop in another room.
To learn more about sleep apnea and your care options, make an appointment with Madison Square Dentistry. Call today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lawrence Wang, or request one online, and get the support you need in getting a good night’s sleep.