Can A Diet Really Ease Your Sleep Apnea Symptoms?

One of the difficult aspects of being afflicted with sleep apnea is maintaining a healthy lifestyle while still dealing with the effects of the disorder. Multiple studies suggest that Sleep apnea can increase your risk of developing various ailments including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, just to name a few. One way to lessen the severity of your sleep apnea symptoms while preventing the onset of any of these diseases would be to alter your eating habits. A study released by the European Respiratory Society, states that if you stick to a strict and healthy Mediterranean diet, symptoms from sleep apnea can improve.

In order to compare the results of a Mediterranean diet to that of a generic diet, the researchers at the University of Crete in Greece asked 40 participants to follow strict dietary guidelines for 6 months (20 people followed a basic diet while the other 20 followed a Mediterranean diet). The participants were also asked to increase the daily amount of physical activity to a minimum of walking 30 minutes a day. Both groups also received CPAP therapy during the trial so that scientists could monitor their sleep progress.

So what were the results? The people following the Mediterranean diet were known to have less disturbances throughout the night, particularly during REM sleep. Participants were also more likely to stick to their diet and workout routine which resulted in a greater loss of abdominal fat. This study is the first of its kind and there is no guarantee that everyone will have the same results, but if you are willing to try a new approach and want a more restful night’s sleep, this can certainly be a good starting point.

Here’s the food breakdown of the diet:


Food groups Prudent Diet Mediterranean diet
Red meat (servings/wk) 9 3
Poultry (servings/wk) 3 3
Fish (servings/wk) 1 3 (1 fatty fish)
Dairy products, low fat (servings/d) 2 2
Fruit (servings/d) 1-2 4
Vegetables (servings/d) 1.5 5
Legumes (servings/wk) 1 ≥3
Potatoes (servings/wk) ≥5 ≥5
Non-refined cereals (servings/d) 2 6
Red wine (glasses/d) 0 1-2
Daily use of olive oil moderate moderate