So your doctor says you have sleep apnea. Your doctor probably recommended the nightly use of a CPAP machine, which is the number one treatment for sleep apnea. With the use of your CPAP machine every night you should see an improvement in how you sleep and that you feel in the morning. However, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your sleep and to improve your sleep apnea in conjunction with the use of your CPAP machine.
- Weight loss;
Unless you are extremely overweight, usually weight loss is not enough to entirely eliminate your sleep apnea, but it can certainly help. Weight loss is believed to improve sleep apnea by changing the shape of the airway which decreases the probability of airway collapse.
- Avoid Alcohol Before Bed;
Alcohol tends to relax the muscles in the airway which will worsen your snoring and sleep breathing issues. If you insist on drinking, allow yourself sufficient time for your blood-alcohol level to decrease to zero before going to bed.
- Sleep on Your Side;
Many married couples will have already figured this one out – each time your partner wakes you up and tells you to roll over. Sleeping on your back increases the chance of airway collapse due to gravity’s effect on the jaw and tongue. Sleeping on your side helps to eliminate this problem.
- Elevate Your Head;
Many sleep apnea patients notice that they sleep better when in a recliner. Just like side-sleeping, elevating your head helps to decrease the effect of gravity on your airway and improve your sleep apnea and overall sleeping experience. Elevating the head of your bed just 30-60 degrees can improve your sleep and chance of having apnea episodes.
- Talk to Your Dentist;
I know this one sounds strange, but many people that use nightly dental appliances such as mouthpieces have found that the use of these items increase their snoring and apnea episodes. Talk to your dentists about other forms of dental treatment that may not interfere with your sleeping and sleep apnea.
- Quit Smoking;
Smoking increases the inflammation and fluid build-up in the upper airway reducing its size, leading to a higher risk of airway collapse. This risk usually decreases after quitting smoking.
- Open Your Nose;
Keep your nasal passages open at night with the use of nasal sprays or allergy medicines.
- Maintain Regular Sleep Hours;
Sleep deprivation is believed to be linked with both prolonging sleep problems while you’re sleeping, as well as decreasing the chance that you will awake from those problems. So get your sleep!
- Strengthen Your Muscles;
By strengthening your airway muscles with exercises you can decrease your chance of an airway collapse. Singing with a vocal instructor is a great way to strengthen your airway muscles, or you can try a technique called Didgeridoo therapy.
- Breathe Rite Strips;
The use of External Nasal Dilation or Breath Rite Strips may reduce the severity of your snoring but will probably not be effective at a sleep apnea treatment.
If you think that you have sleep apnea and have not yet seen a doctor, you should do so. Sleep apnea is a potential fatal disorder if gone un-treated. If your doctor recommends that you should treat using a CPAP machine then DO IT! The above methods are not to be done instead of the use of a CPAP machine but in conjunction with a CPAP machine to enhance your treatment of sleep apnea.