5 At-Home Tips to Ease Sleep Apnea
Your doctor can help you find a sleep apnea treatment that works best for you. But you can also do things at home to improve your symptoms. Some of them will even boost your health overall, and lower your chances for other medical problems.
Tip 1: Lose Weight if You Need To
Not all people with sleep apnea are overweight or obese, but about half are. If you have some extra weight, then slimming down -- even by a few pounds -- can often improve your symptoms.
In one study, 71 people with the disorder got either lifestyle counseling or joined a program that included a 12-week low-calorie diet. On average, those in the diet group shed 16 pounds. After 2 years, sleep apnea was much less severe for them than it was for the people who got counseling only.
Another study looked at how dropping pounds affected sleep apnea among obese people with type 2 diabetes. The people joined either a weight loss group or a diabetes management group for 1 year. On average, those in the weight loss group lost nearly 24 pounds, while those in the other group lost 1.3 pounds.
The effects of trimming down were even more dramatic in this study. More than three times as many people in the weight loss group wound up with no symptoms of sleep apnea at all. And among the people in that group who still had the disorder, it was much less severe after they slimmed down.
Tip 2: Limit Alcohol and Stop Smoking
You already know that lighting up and drinking too much booze aren’t the healthiest moves you can make. Did you know they can also make your sleep apnea symptoms worse?
Cigarette smoking increases swelling in your upper airway. That can aggravate symptoms like snoring and pauses in breathing.
Alcohol decreases the muscle tone in the back of the throat, which can interfere with air flow -- the last thing you need when you already have breathing problems.
Tip 3: Eat Healthy
Some research shows that sleep apnea may mean you're more likely to choose the unhealthy stuff at meals and snacks.