Untreated sleep apnea can stress your heart, elevate your blood pressure, and worsen your temper. You might need hassle pondering clearly since you’re not getting the deep sleep you want. And your snores or gasps for air at evening could disturb family members.

However there are methods to breathe simpler. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is one possibility. But it surely’s not your solely alternative.

Christine Received, MD, focuses on sleep-related respiration problems at Yale Medication and says way of life adjustments may help. Some take purpose at your sleep apnea. Others are geared towards higher sleep normally. “This may help with the fragmented and poor-quality sleep you get with sleep apnea.”

Right here’s what it’s essential to know.

Lose Weight

Sleep apnea is extra widespread in obese adults. That’s as a result of additional fat tissue can block your higher airways. Your genes and pure bodily traits additionally play a task, says Kuljeet Gill, MD, a sleep medication specialist a Northwestern Medication Central DuPage Hospital. However “losing weight might be the primary suggestion.”

Received agrees that weight reduction may help reduce how unhealthy signs are in some folks. But it surely won’t eliminate your want for the CPAP fully, she says.

Anybody of any dimension can get sleep apnea, even children. That’s why Meir Kryger, MD, a sleep medication specialist at Yale Medication, asks adults with sleep apnea this query: “Do you have got kids, and do any of them snore?” Early remedy in kids could thrust back issues down the street, he says.

Train Extra

Your odds of sleep apnea go up in case you’re not bodily energetic. Train may help you shed fats round your higher airways. Even and not using a massive drop in weight, Kryger says common motion can elevate your power ranges and enhance your general well being.

Outdoors of weight reduction, analysis reveals physical activity may help folks with sleep apnea within the following methods:

  • Increase your oxygen ranges
  • Allow you to really feel much less sleepy
  • Enhance your sleep high quality
  • Reduce how unhealthy your sleep apnea is

We’d like extra analysis to know precisely how exercise helps with sleep apnea. However attempt to work in 2 days of weight training and a minimum of 150 minutes of cardio exercise every week. Suppose half-hour a day, 5 days every week. Gill says your temper and sleep high quality would possibly get higher with simply 10 or 20 minutes a day.

Give up Consuming and Smoking

Alcohol use could make sleep apnea worse for a few causes. “We all know that it reduces the tone of the higher airway respiration muscle mass,” Kryger says. “But in addition, individuals who drink a variety of alcohol are inclined to placed on weight.”

Gill says it’s greatest to surrender booze fully. However she is aware of that’s not doable for everybody. In the event you’re going to drink, tips about the right way to reduce alcohol’s influence in your sleep apnea embody:

  • Cease ingesting a minimum of 3 to 4 hours earlier than mattress.
  • Restrict alcohol use to weekends.
  • In the event you’re a heavy drinker, attempt to reduce to 1 or 2 a day.

In the event you smoke, give up. Consultants aren’t precisely positive how cigarette smoking pertains to sleep apnea. However research present individuals who have the sleep problem or extra prone to smoke. Plus, chemical substances in cigarettes can hurt your well being and worsen sleep high quality.

Keep away from Sure Remedy

Gill says you’ll need to be additional cautious with opioids, a sort of sturdy painkiller. They will decelerate your respiration charge and loosen up respiration muscle mass much more.

Different medication that may have an effect on sleep apnea embody:

Ask your physician if it’s OK to make use of over-the-counter sleeping capsules. It’s not that OTC sleep aids make sleep apnea worse, Gill says, however “you don’t need to masks an underlying respiration drawback.”

Change Your Sleep Place

You would possibly breathe simpler in case you snooze in your facet. “I typically have [older] males purchase pregnancy pillows to keep away from their again,” Gill says.

Check out your mattress alternative, too. “A mattress that elevates your head may also assist,” Received says.

However needless to say a change in physique place received’t repair the reason for your sleep apnea. And it won’t do a lot if in case you have critical signs. “However it might assist people who find themselves snorers or who’ve a light sleep-breathing drawback,” Kryger says.

Attempt a Dental Machine

You would possibly hear this known as oral equipment remedy. These instruments pull your tongue away out of your throat or carry your decrease jaw up and ahead, Kryger says. That retains your throat open at evening. For some folks, a dental equipment may be “nearly as efficient as CPAP,” he says.

You’ll must get one made by a dentist or orthodontist who works together with your sleep physician. However dental gadgets is usually a lot dearer than a CPAP, and your insurance could not cowl it.

Deal with Nasal Congestion

A stuffy nostril doesn’t trigger sleep apnea. The issue begins again in your throat, behind your tongue, Kryger says. However managing your allergies — both with surgical procedure, anti-inflammatory brokers, or corticosteroids — could assist if in case you have delicate sleep apnea, he says. 

Along with allergy treatment, Gill suggests rinsing with saline one or two instances a day. You should buy over-the-counter nasal sprays or irrigation kits. Gill says whether or not you utilize a CPAP machine or not, “a part of respiration higher is opening the nostril.”

Observe Good Sleep Habits

This received’t deal with your sleep apnea. However healthy habits could make it simpler to get evening’s relaxation. There are many behavioral methods your physician would possibly need you to strive.

Received says train could allow you to keep alert in the course of the day and make you tired sufficient to crash at evening. And he or she says rest practices reminiscent of meditation would possibly allow you to get to sleep simpler and attain a deeper stage of sleep.

Gill says a strict sleep-wake schedule is essential. Listed below are a few of her suggestions:

  • Go to mattress inside 15 or half-hour of the identical time every day.
  • Maintain the identical sleep routine on weekdays and weekends.
  • Keep away from daytime naps in case you can’t go to sleep simply at evening.

Gill additionally suggests you place down digital gadgets a minimum of 2 or 3 hours earlier than mattress. These are issues like laptops, smartphones, or tablets. “Tv and studying are very totally different,” she says.

Watch What You Eat

Consultants agree that it’s greatest to keep away from heavy meals, caffeine, and spicy meals at evening. These can worsen heartburn. That’s when acid travels out of your stomach as much as your throat. “The reflux, or acid, can truly go excessive sufficient that it might irritate the higher respiration passage,” Kryger says. “It could actually make the apnea worse.”

Give Your self Time to Sleep

An absence of shuteye can result in weight achieve. It could actually additionally elevate your odds of mental health issues. “Individuals who have untreated sleep apnea are more likely to be depressed or have depression-like signs,” Kryger says. “They usually’re far more prone to be very irritable.”

Carve out 7 to 9 hours for sleep. In the event you get rather a lot lower than that, Kryger says a few of your signs, reminiscent of sleepiness, could not get higher even in case you make different way of life adjustments or use a respiration machine.

Play an Energetic Position in Your Care

In the event you do use a CPAP, be sure that it really works the suitable manner. Ask your physician the right way to test your machine. Kryger says your machine would possibly connect with a smartphone app that sends data straight to your physician. They will test that information and make adjustments to your CPAP remotely.

“Sleep medication is pretty updated by way of telemedicine,” he says. “We will do rather a lot in serving to (folks with sleep apnea) maintain themselves.”



Kuljeet Ok. Gill, MD, sleep medication, Northwestern Medication Central DuPage Hospital; well being system clinician of medication (pulmonary and important care), Northwestern College Feinberg Faculty of Medication.

Christine Received, MD, affiliate professor of medication (pulmonary), Yale Faculty of Medication; medical director, Yale Middle for Sleep Medication; director, Girls’s Sleep Well being Program, Yale Medication.

Meir Kryger, MD, professor of medication (pulmonary); medical professor of nursing, Yale Faculty of Medication.

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