Do you have trouble breathing when you sleep? Do you wake up feeling tired and groggy every morning? You may be suffering from sleep apnea, a disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you’re asleep. This lack of sufficient breathing can lead to feelings of exhaustion, shortness of breath, and even a choking sensation.
Fortunately, there are many lifestyle changes you can make in order to decrease your symptoms and improve your sleep apnea. Here are a few to get you on the right track:
Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
Sleep apnea often leads to poor sleep quality, which can make it even harder to fall and stay asleep. To help get your internal clock in sync, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This may help regulate your sleep-wake cycle and decrease the amount of times you stop breathing.
Stay Upright After Eating
After a meal, most people tend to lay down or slump onto the couch to relax. However, for those suffering from sleep apnea, this is a recipe for disaster. Lying down after consuming a meal can cause the food or acid from your stomach to flow back into your throat, leading to shortness of breath and an increase in apneic events.
Dehydration can cause the tissues of the throat and mouth to become more relaxed, making it easier for them to block the airway. Make sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Consuming enough fluids will help keep your throat from becoming dry, and can also help to keep the tissues from relaxing so much that they obstruct your airway.
Exercise can help to improve sleep apnea by helping you lose weight and tone up the muscles in your throat. When you are overweight, your throat and neck fat can constrict your airway, making it hard to breathe while you’re sleeping. By combining a healthy diet with a regular exercise routine, you can lose excess pounds, increase your muscle strength, and improve your lung capacity, all of which can help to alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol relaxes the muscles, including the muscles of the throat, which can lead to more frequent episodes of sleep apnea. Limiting your alcohol intake or avoiding it altogether can help prevent these episodes from occurring.
Use a Humidifier
Many people with sleep apnea notice that their symptoms get worse in the winter, as the air becomes very dry. If you are experiencing increased apneic events, try using a humidifier in your home, particularly in the bedroom. The added moisture in the air can help prevent nasal congestion, which can obstruct the airway and make it harder for you to breathe at night.
Smoking irritates the tissues in the throat and airway, and can lead to inflammation and an increased risk of obstruction. Quitting smoking can help improve your overall health and decrease your risk of sleep apnea.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you are struggling with sleep apnea, it is important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and potential treatments. Your doctor can help you pinpoint the causes of your sleep apnea and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
By adopting these lifestyle changes, you can help to decrease the frequency and severity of your sleep apnea symptoms. Staying active, limiting alcohol, staying hydrated, and staying upright after a meal are just a few of the things you can do to improve your quality of sleep. Be sure to talk to your doctor about other potential changes you can make to further reduce your symptoms and improve your overall health.