Sleep apnea may be a nighttime condition, but it can throw your days into chaos as well. Thankfully, there are lots of practical steps you can take to improve your condition and help get your sleep schedule back on track. Here’s a look at five tips that can reduce your symptoms and improve your prognosis.
- Try losing weight.
Being overweight or obese is one of the main causes of sleep apnea, and losing a few pounds can really make a difference for managing your symptoms. Multiple studies have been done about the effects of weight loss on this condition and all have pointed to one obvious conclusion—maintaining a healthy weight can dramatically reduce or even eliminate the symptoms associated with sleep apnea.
- Consider other lifestyle changes.
Aside from obesity, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are another two of the top sleep apnea causes. While cutting back or even completely removing these vices from your daily life may not reduce your symptoms as dramatically as weight loss, there’s no denying that they can change things for the better.
- Change your sleeping position.
If you only have a mild case of sleep apnea, a switch to sleeping on your side or stomach instead of your back may be enough to effectively reduce your symptoms. These positions don’t put as much tension on the neck muscles, making it easier for them to function correctly during sleep.
- Give the CPAP machine a chance.
While many people worry that they won’t be able to adjust to sleeping with a CPAP machine, it’s worth giving them a shot because they’re the most effective option for treating sleep apnea. It may feel uncomfortable and awkward at first to sleep with a CPAP machine, but give yourself some time to get used to the sensation. You’ll probably find that once your sleeping improves, you won’t mind wearing the mask at all. (And don't forget to invest in a CPAP cleaner!)
- Avoid sleep aids.
While you might think that things like sleeping pills will improve the rest you get each night, in reality they might only make things worse. Sedatives have a relaxing effect on the muscles in the neck, which is a problem since sleep apnea is caused by muscle relaxation to begin with. Avoid products that are intended to “knock you out” and work on developing healthy, long-term solutions for good sleep instead.