Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder among adults but rare among children. When a person suffers from sleep apnea, their airway can become constricted or collapsed during sleep, causing the person to actually stop breathing. When this happens, a sufferer will wake himself or herself up just long enough to re-open their airway and restore the flow of oxygen. This event can happen so quickly that a person suffering from sleep apnea may not ever even remember waking up during the night. However, this happening frequently, partially awakening multiple times throughout the night can greatly decrease the quality of sleep and lead to increased tiredness the following day as well as have an overall negative impact on quality of life.
While it can be a problem for people who have a healthy lifestyle and diet, the number one cause of sleep apnea is obesity. An excess of fatty tissue, particularly around the neck, can cause pressure on the internal diameter of the throat and make the airway much more likely to collapse when an obese person is sleeping on their back. Studies have found if an individual has a 10% weight gain, they increase the apnea-hypopnea index by 30%. Likewise, if they have a 10% weight loss, they will decrease the apnea-hypopnea index by 25%. Living a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced diet will decrease your chance with experiencing sleep apnea.
Avoiding sleeping pills and consuming alcohol, both contributing factors to sleep apnea, will help to ensure a natural breathing cycle while you are sleeping. Both sleeping pills and drinking alcohol relax the muscles, and since sleep apnea happens because the musculature of the throat is too relaxed, they both can make the problem worse. Even a person who does not usually snore is likely to do so after taking sleeping pills or having a few drinks.
The nicotine in cigarette smoking is an irritant which causes the upper airway to swell and increase the fluid retention in the throat contributing to sleep apnea. Smokers are three times more likely to develop sleep apnea than non-smokers.
Changing your sleeping position can help prevent sleep apnea. Most people lay flat on their back to sleep, which causes the tongue and soft palate to collapse onto the back of their throat and cut off the airway. This is the position in which sleep apnea is most likely to occur. The best position to avoid sleep apnea is to sit up in a reclining position. If you can’t sleep sitting up, try using a fully size body pillow to prop yourself up in order to sleep on your side.
Other suggestions for fixing sleep apnea quickly include: eliminating noise and lighting in the bedroom and avoid working out before you go to bed. The bedroom should only be used to sleep in, so always avoid eating, watching television, or reading in bed. Individuals have found practicing physical and mental relaxation before bed can help you sleep better.
In severe cases, the best solution can be wearing an orthodontic appliance during sleep called a SomnoMed. This orthodontic helps to gently reposition the jaw and prevent the airway from collapsing. The SomnoMed effectively treats sleep apnea with out the cost and noise of the traditional CPAP machine. To find out more about this solution, contact the Borowski Sleep Center today.