Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Reduce Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is more than just loud snoring that affects your sleep quality. This condition, which involves repeated stopping and starting of breathing while you sleep, is also a serious threat to your health. You may not even realize you have sleep apnea, especially if it’s a mild case.

You’re diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea if you have periods of not breathing that last 10 seconds or longer as you slumber. The condition occurs when your throat muscles fail to keep your airway open. Your brain senses the lack of oxygen and awakens you.

You may realize you have sleep apnea if you’re a loud snorer and a partner reports episodes of you gasping during the night. You might feel irritable during the day, have learning or memory difficulties, and fall asleep at work or while driving. Over time, untreated sleep apnea is associated with heart failure, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and Type 2 diabetes. Both men and women are susceptible to sleep apnea.

At Dastrup Dental, we want to help you overcome sleep apnea to promote good sleep and good health. Lifestyle changes can often make a difference in the severity of your condition. Try the following to help reduce sleep apnea.

Lose weight

Excessive fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct breathing. If you’re carrying a few too many extra pounds, losing weight can help alleviate sleep apnea.

Exercise regularly

A sedentary lifestyle contributes to excess fat. Exercising at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week brings your weight in check. Exercise also boosts the health of your respiratory system.

Quit smoking and moderate drinking

Smoking puts you at a greater risk of developing sleep apnea. Quit — we can help. Quitting smoking offers a cascade of positive health impacts.

Alcohol slows your breathing muscles and leads to shallow breath. It can also relax the muscles of your throat, making sleep apnea worse. If you drink, keep to moderate amounts (one drink per day for women and two for men).

Sleep on your side

Sleeping on your back encourages a collapse of the muscles of your throat that lead to sleep apnea. Retrain yourself to sleep on your side. You can place a pillow between your legs to make it more comfortable.

Take a decongestant or allergy medicine before bed

People with allergies are at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea. You may not realize you have seasonal allergies if your symptoms are mild, but the condition can cause issues with your throat muscles that contribute to sleep apnea. Medication can ease the inflammation in these muscles so you sleep more easily.

If lifestyle changes fail to reduce your sleep apnea, come into Dastrup Dental in Davidson, North Carolina, to get evaluated. A common treatment prescribed is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. We can fit you for a customized dental appliance that helps position your mouth while you sleep to prevent apnea. You may prefer a dental appliance to a CPAP machine, as it’s not loud, is simple to clean, and is easily portable.

Call the office or schedule online if you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea or suspect you may suffer from it. Joseph Dastrup, DDS, can evaluate your symptoms and offer solutions.

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