June 09, 2020

4 Sleep Apnea Lifestyle Changes You Should Make

4 Sleep Apnea Lifestyle Changes You Should Make

You may suspect you or somebody close to you has sleep apnea. Or maybe you have already been diagnosed and you would like to learn more about the condition and what sleep apnea lifestyle changes you can implement to make life easier.

Snoring is hereditary and harmless. About half the people on planet earth snore at some point in their lives. Who knows how many animals!

Sometimes though, snoring is more than just snoring. Harmless snoring can become a telltale sign of a serious, but also very common sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Obstructive sleep apnea is usually caused by obstructions in the soft tissues of your throat while you sleep, specifically when the tongue and soft palate collapse against the back of the throat. If the brain is not sending signals for the person to breathe this is called central sleep apnea.  Oral appliances like mandibular advancement devices and mouthpieces or mouth guards are sometimes used as a treatment option for OSA to hold the lower jaw forward and out. The use of oral appliances has been known to reduce daytime sleepiness in some cases. In more severe sleep apnea cases, you may have to visit a sleep medicine clinic to have a sleep study done. Your doctor may suggest surgery to remove your tonsils or adenoids or fix a deviated septum.

Keep reading to learn about small tweaks to your lifestyle that lead to massive improvements in your overall long-term healthcare. We will also offer suggestions on ways to find the motivation to actually implement these sleep apnea lifestyle modifications, since we know changing your routine isn’t always the easiest to do. Some of the lifestyle changes you can make in order to reduce health problems and avoid medical conditions like sleep apnea are:

  • Stop smoking
  • Fast before bed
  • Cold showers
  • Minimize soft drinks

Did you know that risk factors for sleep apnea include obesity, smoking, alcohol use, and the use of sleep medication? Men are also at an increased risk.

1. Stop Smoking

A cigarette releasing smoke outside

This can't be the first time you've heard it. If you are still smoking cigarettes regularly after you receive your sleep apnea diagnosis, you could be putting yourself at risk. Smoking and sleep apnea actually both affect your overall system in a similar way. 

Did you know that one of the major risks of sleep apnea is that it lowers your immune system's ability to respond to threats? Smoking can also weaken your throat muscles and worsen your sleep apnea.

Just like cigarettes, lack of restful sleep due to sleep apnea can cause side effects like high blood pressure (hypertension), cardiovascular disease, heart failure,  and a compromised immune system. 

2. Intermittent Fasting

A healthy breakfast and tea on a table next to a magazine

Ancient humans did not eat three meals a day. Yale University history professor Paul Freedman says that the concept of three meals a day is mostly a product of popular culture. However, this model does not account for the kind of life we live today. It is one of the reasons why the American snacking industry rakes in around $80 billion annually.

Being overweight is one of the main risk factors for sleep apnea. If you are looking for weight loss tips or just trying to maintain healthy body weight, here are possible strategies to help you eat less to sleep more.

Intermittent fasting

Along with keto and paleo diets, intermittent fasting is one of the most talked-about diets out there in 2020. This diet is not a question of what you eat, but when. Different people do this in different ways, but the key is consistency.

Why would you do this? 

Studies show that intermittent fasting can help us have healthier circadian rhythms. That means having an easier time falling asleep and getting high-quality rest. It also does the same thing as blueberries and collagen, which is anti-oxidize your body. When you give your body the right amount of time to digest your food and recharge, things run more smoothly.

3. Cold Showers

A shower that’s pouring cold water

Did you know that shivering burns fat?

Wim Hof, aka the Iceman, is an extreme athlete who has made this fun fact into a lifestyle. The Dutch world record breaker has climbed Mt. Everest shirtless. He and twelve of his students volunteered to be injected with E.Coli in a laboratory setting, where they used cold exposure techniques to successfully fight and beat the bacterial disease. 

Aside from possibly giving you E. Coli-fighting superpowers, cold exposure has been shown to help you sleep better, have more energy during the day, and burn fat. A study from 2009 revealed that adults have a kind of good fat stored in our neck and shoulders that is produced from bad fat when we are exposed to the cold.

"Brown fat," as it is called, is believed to be beneficial and may be able to fight diabetes and obesity.

4. Minimize Soft Drinks

A closeup of soda cans that are open

A Harvard nutrition study recommends consuming fewer soft drinks. There are 39 grams of sugar in a 12 oz Coca Cola can. There are 65 grams of sugar in a regular 20 oz bottle.

To give you an idea of how excessive that is, compare it to a bag of peanut M&Ms, which has 14.4 grams of sugar. If you are looking for quick energy boosts, you can try to change your Coca Cola and coffee routine for healthier alternatives such as matcha green tea, high-antioxidant berries, and natural fruit juice. 

Soft drinks represent a threat to people with a sleep apnea diagnosis. Too much sugar in your body causes inflammation. Sleep apnea is made worse by inflammation in 80% of sleep apnea cases because these are due to air being blocked from reaching the lungs by obstacles in your respiratory system which interfere with your breathing patterns.

Conclusion (and Motivational Tips)

A grand majority of sleep apnea cases are a result of blockages in the upper airways. This means that most cases are mechanical, and not permanent. Sleep apnea is a serious condition, but a diagnosis doesn't have to ruin your quality of life. There is something you can do about it!

Between today and the day you are able to use these sleep apnea lifestyle changes to get your nights back in order, you can trust the sleep experts at Sleeplay to help you find a good night's rest.

Today's continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines use the latest technology to keep noise around the volume of a whisper. Take a look at our wide range of cutting-edge supplies and CPAP devices and start your journey to better sleep and improved wellness. For more wellness tips, guides, and recommendations, check out our blog.

Written by The Sleeplay Team

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