Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder, which affects the way you breathe when you are sleeping. It is a serious sleep disorder which can stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping if left untreated. This will lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain and the rest of the body. Your lifestyle and everything you do during the day has an impact on your sleep at night. Important aspects of preventing sleep apnea include changes in your lifestyle and day time behaviour. Some simple measures that can help reduce your risk of developing the problem include:
Aim to lose weight if you're overweight or obese. Experts say that even loss of a few pounds can have a dramatic affect on sleep apnea. Losing extra weight can help reduce some of the constriction on your throat. Many overweight people with sleep apnea notice dramatic improvement of sleep apnea with loss of few pounds. You can reduce your risk of developing sleep apnea by trying to remain at a healthy weight.
Also read: What is sleep apnea?
Stay away from alcohol and medicines (such as sedatives, sleeping pills and tranquilizers) that cause you to become sleepy as these relax the muscles in your throat and make it harder for your throat to stay open during sleep. Viagra (sildenafil) is another medicine that can produce the same effect. In case you take any of these medications, take them well before bed time.
Prefer to sleep on your side and avoid sleeping on your back if you are attempting to prevent sleep apnea. Sleeping on side helps keep the throat open whereas sleeping on your back can increase snoring as it allows the tongue to fall back at the back of the throat, thereby blocking your airway. If you prefer sleeping on your back, it may be difficult to abruptly change the sleeping position. Try to keep a pillow or rolled sheets on your side to prevent moving from side-sleeping position to sleeping on back.
Raising the head of your bed by 4 to 6 inches may help to improve your breathing. To raise the head side, you may place bricks under the feet at the head of your bed or use sheets at the head side. A special pillow called a cervical pillow can help to keep your head in a position that prevents sleep apnea.
If you smoke, stopping it can help prevent sleep apnea. Nicotine present in tobacco tends to relax the muscles that keep your airways open. Therefore, when you sleep, the airway collapses and causes the narrowing of the airways.
Also read: Sounding the Alarm About Sleep Apnea
Lifestyle changes such as being physically active and exercising regularly can also help to prevent sleep apnea.
If you have allergies and cold, it may worsen your sleep apnea symptoms. Consult your doctor for medications to treat stuffy nose.
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