Thursday, 28 April 2016

5 Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Alleviate Sleep Apnoea

Image by Claudio Beck via Flickr

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a serious condition that causes much suffering for those diagnosed with the disorder. Researchers have found evidence that people with this disorder carry a higher risk of heart attacks, car accidents, cognitive impairment and workplace mishaps.

The news isn’t all bad though as a number of lifestyle changes have been identified that can alleviate much of the suffering and significantly reduce a number of the harmful flow on effects of the condition.

Weight Reduction

While there are always exceptions, being overweight can often play a part in the severity of obstructive sleep apnoea symptoms. Sleep apnoea occurs when the airways become narrowed or even blocked while sleeping, which causes one to eventually gasp for breath. This continually interrupts the deep sleep cycle responsible for rest and the restoration of many physiological functions. Excess weight bears down on the airways and exacerbates the condition. Reducing one’s weight even a little can translate into decreased symptoms and deeper, more restful sleep.

Decreased Alcohol or Pharmaceuticals Intake

Alcohol, sleeping pills and muscle relaxants can all contribute to the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea by relaxing the soft tissues of the throat and airways. The use of any of these substances can contribute to breathing problems and reducing their intake can often decrease the severity of the symptoms. Reduction of medication should always be done in conjunction with a qualified health professional but limiting one’s alcohol consumption is a positive lifestyle choice that has many positive benefits.

Sleeping Position

Many of the risks associated with obstructive sleep apnoea are related to the chronic tiredness that is caused by multiple interruptions to sleep throughout the night. This loss of sleep can lead to reduced concentration, increased irritability, lapses of attention and difficulty in remaining alert and focused.

The condition is made worse by sleeping on one’s back as the airways more easily close as gravity forces the soft tissues of the throat and neck to bear downwards and the airways to narrow. Adjusting ones position by sleeping on the side rather than the back can make a huge difference. Some sufferers sew a pocket with a tennis ball into the back of their bedclothes to ensure they turn onto their sides when sleeping.

Mandibular Adjustment Devices

A mandibular adjustment device such as those recommended by Sound Sleeper is an oral device similar to a mouth guard that subtly alters the position of the jaw while sleeping and encourages the airways to remain open. This non-invasive and cost effective treatment option has borne remarkable results and earned high praise from many sufferers of obstructive sleep disorder.

Sleeping on a Slight Incline

Adjusting the incline of one’s bed can also help reduce downward pressure on the airways while sleeping. Special cervical pillows are available that change the angle of one’s head, neck and shoulders so that they are slightly raised when sleeping.

Using a mechanical bed that allows for the upper torso to be raised can also noticeably reduce symptoms. Lying completely flat slightly collapses the airways while sitting up keeps them open. It’s not comfortable or practical to sleep upright forever but even slightly elevating the upper body can make a significant difference.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a serious condition that can often drive sufferers to frustration and despair. Experimenting with some of these simple lifestyle changes can provide much needed relief and a renewed sense of hope for regaining the ability to have a restful night’s sleep.

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