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The American Sleep Apnea Association’s sleep apnea definition states that “apnea” is a Greek word that means “without breath.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea is a condition that causes episodes of momentary breathing stoppage (the “apnea”) while you are sleeping, as well as shallow breathing (which is called “hypopnea”).
Sleep apnea comes in three different forms :
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA – the most common form of sleep apnea)
- Central Sleep Apnea
- Complex Sleep Apnea (a mix of obstructive and central)
Sleep apnea disrupts your sleep as well as the sleep of anyone who shares a bed with you. The breaks in your breathing may last a few seconds or a few minutes. Regular breathing typically re-starts with a loud snorting or choking noise. A vicious cycle is repeated all night long.
Your bed partner is usually more aware than you of your breaks in breathing. Generally, you will experience more than 5 episodes each hour (in severe cases, up to 100 episodes an hour).
Sleep apnea often escapes proper diagnosis. It cannot be detected by a blood test. In addition, you might not exhibit the breathing symptoms when you make a visit to your doctor’s office. However, you could be referred to a sleep clinic where overnight testing is undertaken.
Home Treatment For Sleep Apnea
There are various types of treatment for this sleep disorder. In general, you can treat sleep apnea with lifestyle change, therapies, surgery and other medical procedures. But there also alternative ways to cure yourself from sleep apnea. These alternative treatments include homeopathy, exercise and weight loss, flower remedy or essence therapy, behavioral and home treatments.
The easiest way to get treatment is to use home remedies. Home treatment for sleep apnea can be applied and can radically change your sleeping condition if you have mild sleep apnea, where only 5 or fewer episodes of apnea happen to a person each hour.
Home treatment for sleep apnea include losing weight, sleeping on your side, getting plenty of sleep and limiting alcohol intake and smoking during the night.
Mouth and Throat (“Orofacial”) Exercises
Research has proven that by regularly and consistently exercising your mouth, jaw and throat muscles, mouth and throat exercises for sleep apnea are an effective method that can cure (or significantly reduce) apnea in as little as three months.
Many researchers are convinced of the effectiveness of this treatment (but family doctors are taking some time to catch up!)
Inexpensive and fun, singing exercises for sleep apnea work to dramatically lessen your OSA. Through singing, you can effectively your strengthen airway muscles so they don’t collapse during sleep. There are no drugs involved and no side effects: just sing some songs and tighten up those throat muscles!
The “didgeridoo” is an ancient Australian wind instrument invented by aboriginal people. It’s played by blowing into the end of a small hollowed-out log.
When you blow into a didgeridoo, the muscles of the airway are exercised and made stronger. Research shows that 25 minutes a day of didgeridoo for sleep apnea can lessen sleep apnea symptoms in as little as 3 months.
Positional therapy for sleep apnea involves sleeping on your side instead of on your back. Making the change produces a marked improvement in mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Research studies have demonstrated the power of some herbs to cure sleep apnea. In addition, teas such as lavender and chamomile are used as sedatives to calm the nervous system for better quality sleep.
Yoga Breathing Exercises
The breathing exercises used in the practice of yoga can be utilized to effectively ease sleep apnea symptoms. Yoga for sleep apnea works by making the diaphragm stronger, increasing your intake of oxygen. There are many other health-related benefits of yoga exercises, including stress relief and weight loss.
Sleep “hygiene” doesn’t mean you need to be cleaner! It refers to the daily habits you have related to sleep.
Specific sleep hygiene tips include trying to get up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding daytime naps, and other techniques to keep your circadian rhythm in balance.
Buteyko Breathing Technique
Do you believe that word-of-mouth recommendations are best? Well, many people swear by the Buteyko breathing technique for sleep apnea as a cure (we’ve received many emails here at Apnea Treatment Center).
Proper breathing is an art, and this technique teaches you to breathe in the correct manner. The improved breathing technique that you practice during your waking hours will carry over to your nighttime sleep. This will result in a noticeable reduction or elimination of sleep apnea.
Research that has been published in reputable scientific journals demonstrates the viability of acupuncture as an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
Acupuncture for sleep apnea works by stimulating the upper airway, keeping it open while you sleep. The result: no more sleep apnea!
Losing weight is extremely important in the fight against sleep apnea. Excess fat in the neck and abdomen area will be reduced, thus taking pressure off the airway and the respiratory muscles. If you’re overweight, weight loss for sleep apnea is a must.
Foods to Eat/Foods to Avoid : certain foods can cause or worsen sleep apnea. You should avoid bananas as well as fast foods and heavily processed foods. A Mediterranean diet that incorporates lots of leafy green vegetables, olive oil and avocados helps to reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Allergy Treatment & Nasal Irrigation
According to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, daytime drowsiness and nighttime nasal congestion are reduced when allergies are properly treated. This translates into improved sleep.
Nasal irrigation is useful for unblocking noses and fighting infections. Many people swear that a daily rinse of their nasal passages helps to alleviate sleep apnea. Commercial kits for nasal irrigation are readily available.
Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Many small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your sleep apnea. For example, if you smoke or drink alcoholic beverages, those substances will negatively impact your lung and respiratory functions. As such, they can cause or worsen your sleep apnea.
Other Treatments For Sleep Apnea
Aside from the dreaded CPAP, there are many sleep apnea devices available for purchase online or through your dentist. Here are the most popular and effective.
Band-Aid-like nasal strips are available over-the-counter. A nasal strip is placed across the nose to decongest the nasal passages and aid breathing.
Sleep Apnea Pillows
Different types of sleep apnea pillows are available. Some are designed to be used with the CPAP machine, but others are used by themselves. They are available in various shapes. Your choice will depend on whether you sleep on your side or your back.
Bumper belts are highly effective. Prescribed by countless doctors, the belts successfully treat positional obstructive sleep apnea.
According to a study published at the website for the National Institute of Health, the use of just a chinstrap resulted in an improvement of severe OSA. The chinstrap was found to out-perform the CPAP machine. You can either purchase or make your own chin strap.
Mouth-Guards/Mouthpieces (Purchased Online)
You can purchase a variety of mouth-guards and mouthpieces online. They are very much like the mouth guards worn by sportsmen. While you sleep, the mouth guard holds your lower jaw in proper alignment to keep your airway free and allow easier breathing.
Oral Appliances (Fitted By Your Dentist)
Your dentist can take an impression of your mouth to create a custom mouth guard that will be fitted by the dentist. The device has hinges for ease of jaw movement. The dental appliance will stabilize your soft palate and tongue so as to facilitate an open airway and easy breathing.
Provent Therapy is FDA-approved for the treatment of sleep apnea. This therapy uses disposable micro-valves that are placed over each nostril at nighttime. They prevent collapse of the airway and help you to breathe much more easily.
Winx Sleep Therapy System
The Winx Sleep Therapy System comprises a console, a tube and a flexible mouthpiece. The system draws the soft palate of the mouth forward so as to stabilize the tongue and keep the airway open. Winx eliminates the need for a mask, making it easier to sleep in any position. However, Winx must be prescribed by a physician.