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Obstructive Sleep Apnea: 5 Self-Care Strategies

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Tip 3: Eat Healthy

Like everyone else, people with sleep apnea should eat a healthy diet. But people with sleep apnea may be more likely to eat unhealthy foods, some research suggests. 

Sleep deprivation may lead to increased cravings for carbohydrates. Sleep deprivation and fatigue have also been linked with changes in the appetite regulators leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness. When you don’t sleep, you may want to eat more and feel less satisfied when you do. 

You don’t need to be overweight to have an unhealthy diet. In a 2008 study of 320 adults, those with more severe sleep apnea ate more protein, fat, and saturated fatty acids than those with the less severe sleep apnea, regardless of how much they weighed. 

Tip 4: Tend to Your Allergies

Not surprisingly, being stuffed up from nasal allergies can complicate sleep apnea and make sleep more difficult.

To understand why, picture your airway as a long, muscular tube running from your nose to your windpipe. If your allergies are not under control, the tissues of the upper throat swell and narrow the airway. And that can make breathing more difficult.

If you have sleep apnea and nasal allergies, be sure your allergies are under control. Using a Neti pot or a saline nasal spray before bed may also help.

Tip 5: Develop a Good Sleep Routine

Getting enough sleep is important to staying healthy with obstructive sleep apnea. The catch, of course, is that sleep apnea makes it difficult to get good sleep. A variety of devices designed to improve breathing for people with sleep apnea – including a CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure machine -- can help.

About half of the people with apnea have most of their breathing abnormalities while sleeping on their backs, sleep experts have found. So most doctors encourage people with sleep apnea to try to sleep in other positions.

If you have mild sleep apnea or heavy snoring, lying on your side may help. But how can you get into the habit? Some doctors suggest simply putting two tennis balls into a tube sock and pinning it to your nightshirt in back.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on April 02, 2014
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