Sleep apnea is a health condition that can be difficult to get rid of. Nonetheless, some treatments and strategies can reduce symptoms & help heighten sleep quality. The condition has been linked to various health problems, from obesity and dementia to hypertension and heart failure. If you think you have this disorder, you should do something about it. Keep reading to uncover more about sleep apnea, its signs & symptoms, its causes & risk factors, plus how to sleep better with sleep apnea. You’ll know the top, most efficacious tips to help ameliorate sleep quality with this condition.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea (SA) is a severe sleep disorder that makes you stop breathing while you’re sleeping. There are 3 types of SA:
- obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): It happens when throat muscles relax, narrowing the upper airway;
- central sleep apnea (CSA): This SA type occurs when the brain doesn’t transmit signals to the muscles in the airway to breathe;
- complex or mixed SA: This is a blend of OSA & CSA.
The shortage of oxygen during a SA attack jolts you awake. The condition leads to inconsistent sleep habits, stopping you from obtaining sleep quality you require, & can increase the risk of many health problems, deadly in some cases. Here are some of them:
- heart disease;
- sexual dysfunction;
- kidney disease;
So it’s essential to take it thoughtfully. If you suspect you have SA, talk to your physician without delay.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
It can be difficult to recognize SA on your own since the most notable signs happen during sleep. However, you can get around this concern by requesting a bed partner to observe your sleep habits or by recording yourself during sleep. If pauses happen while you snore, and if choking follows pauses, these are the main SA warning signs. Below are the major symptoms of the condition :
- frequent, loud snoring;
- snorting or gasping;
- daytime drowsiness & fatigue.
Here is a list of other SA symptoms:
- morning headache;
- waking up at night feeling short of breath;
- waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth;
- nighttime awakenings, restless sleep, or insomnia;
- trouble concentrating;
- memory difficulties;
- mood swings.
The only way to know for sure if you have SA is to turn to a specialist for health analysis. To confirm the diagnosis, a patient may be required to do a sleep study.
Sleep Apnea Causes and Risk Factors
Anything that might narrow your airway can heighten the risk of the disorder. The condition can affect anyone, even juniors. Nevertheless, certain factors listed below can contribute to SA:
- extra weight: Fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct breathing;
- neck circumference: Individuals with thicker necks might have narrower airways. Adenoids or tonsils can also enlarge & block the airway, especially in kids;
- sex: Males are up to 3 times more likely to have the disorder. Nonetheless, women augment their risk if they’re overweight or if they’ve reached menopause;
- age: The condition occurs more often in older grown-ups;
- family history & genetics: SA can be inherited. Your genes help determine the size & shape of your face, skull, & upper airway. Also, genes can raise the risk of other health conditions that can lead to SA, like Down syndrome and cleft lip & cleft palate;
- use of tranquilizers, too much alcohol, or sedatives: These substances can relax the muscles in the throat, exacerbating the condition;
- smoking: This bad habit can augment the quantity of inflammation & fluid retention in the airway;
- nasal congestion: OSA occurs more often in people with nasal congestion, whether from an anatomical subject or an allergy.
Another risk factor is medical conditions. Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and congestive are some of the problems that may augment the risk of the disorder. Hormonal ailments, a prior stroke, polycystic ovary syndrome, & chronic lung ailments such as asthma can also contribute to SA.
What Are the Best Ways to Significantly Improve Sleep with Sleep Apnea?
Just because you have SA doesn’t imply you’re destined for poor-quality sleep permanently. There are a number of helpful things you can do to sleep longer & experience fewer or no breathing disturbances. Below are the most common ways to improve sleep quality with SA.
Improving your sleep hygiene is what you can do for better sleep. It’s advisable to avoid things like a late-afternoon coffee or bright light that prevents you from relaxing in the evening. Here are some other ways to enhance your sleep hygiene:
- be consistent: Plan to go to bed at the same time each night & also get up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends;
- ensure that your bedroom is relaxing, quiet, dark, & at a comfy temperature;
- remove electronic devices, such as a TV and a laptop, from the bedroom;
- avoid eating large meals & drinking alcohol close to bedtime: These are sleep disruptors that can maintain you up or awaken you during the night.
Also, your sleep environment may cause SA to be more threatening. Small particles in the air can build up in the upper airway and cause irritation & breathing difficulties. The more particles in your sleep environment, the more SA bouts can happen .
Drinking or smoking frequently might be contributing to the condition. Drinking slows down the central nervous system & relaxes the muscles in the throat. That’s one of the reasons that intoxicated individuals frequently snore. Smoking can also inflame the airway & make it challenging to breathe, which may increase the severity of SA.
Losing weight can help open up the airway while sleeping. Overweight individuals are more likely to have excess tissue in the back of their throat, which can fall down over the airway & ultimately block the air flow into the lungs during sleep. Besides, losing weight could make both SA & other conditions (e.g., heart disease) go away. Losing simply 10% of body weight can have a big effect on SA symptoms.
Regular Physical Activity
Physical activity allows an individual to lose weight & maintain a healthy body, which results in reducing SA signs. According to a study, increasing exercise is linked with a decreased incidence of sleep-disordered breathing .
Resistance training, aerobic exercise, and yoga are good for strengthening respiratory muscles and improving breathing. Performing deep breathing & curating a yoga practice to deal with the respiratory tract aid in enhancing breathing as you sleep.
Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) Therapy
A CPAP machine is a common solution for individuals with SA. It comprises a mask & a base that provides pressurized air via your airway & keeps your breathing more even. CPAP therapy is thought to decrease the average number of SA bouts from 29 an hour to 3.7 . It also significantly lessens snoring, reduces daytime sleepiness, ameliorates the quality of life & mood, decreases blood pressure, and partly reverses metabolic abnormalities in individuals with moderate-to-severe SA . Further, it helps improve daily functioning & restore memory to normal levels .
Oral Appliance Therapy
A mandibular advancement oral appliance is less likely to cause disruption or annoyance than a CPAP machine, so it may be more comfortable to use each night. This is a specially fitted device, similar to a mouth guard, that aids in keeping the airway open by moving the lower jaw or tongue forward, thus creating more space. Take note that such oral appliance doesn’t interfere with daily life or require significant upkeep.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved modafinil to manage OSA symptoms, as well as other sleep disorders. The recommended dosage for the drug is 200 to 400 mg per day. Further, armodafinil, a bit more potent modafinil’s R-enantiomer, is also FDA-approved for use in the treatment of OSA. Because modafinil is very efficacious and safe, you might be interested in getting some tablets to help you to improve sleep quality. Today, most online pharmacies offer cheap generic modafinil meds, as well as a modafinil free sample pack to test the pills. You may take advantage of the offer to determine if this med can help you treat your disorder before buying it in bulk.
Hopefully, the best tips discussed in this guide for getting better sleep with SA will aid you in breathing easier & awakening more well-rested. Fortunately, the condition is treatable. Lifestyle modifications, proper sleep hygiene, regular physical activity, etc., may be helpful in enhancing your signs if SA is mild. If the condition is severe, you may require to take some meds like modafinil or use a CPAP device during sleep.
- What You Need to Know About Sleep Apnea. By Kathleen Davis. Medically reviewed by Janet Hilbert. Updated: December 17, 2020. Retrieved: January 7, 2023. Medicalnewstoday.com.
- Effects of Bedroom Environmental Conditions on the Severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. By Sattamat Lappharat, Nutta Taneepanichskul, Sirimon Reutrakul, and Naricha Chirakalwasan. Published: April 15, 2018. Pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- Exercise Is Associated With a Reduced Incidence of Sleep-Disordered Breathing. By Karim M. Awad, Atul Malhotra, Jodi H. Barnet, Stuart F. Quan, and Paul E. Peppard. Published: May 2012. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- CPAP for Prevention of Cardiovascular Events in Obstructive Sleep Apnea. By R. Doug McEvoy, Nick A. Antic, Emma Heeley, Yuanming Luo, et al. Published: September 8, 2016. Nejm.org.
- CPAP for the Metabolic Syndrome in Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea. By Surendra K. Sharma, Swastik Agrawal, Deepak Damodaran, et al. Published: December 15, 2011. Nejm.org.
- Adherence to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy. By Terri E. Weaver and Ronald R. Grunstein. Published: February 15, 2008. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.