Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing during the night. Sufferers can suffer hundreds of brief periods during the night when they stop breathing for a few seconds. This cessation of breath interrupts the sleep pattern, leaving the sufferer exhausted because they do not get restful sleep. There is no cure for sleep apnea, but follow these steps and you may be able to control the sleep apnea so that you can get some rest.
- Consult your physician. There are different types and causes of sleep apnea. If your partner indicates that your snoring is heavy or that you appear to stop breathing during the night, then consult your physician.
- Participate in a sleep study. In most cases, a sleep study is needed to diagnose the type and severity of sleep apnea. Your physician should be able to recommend a study in your area.
- Sleep on your back with a supportive pillow. For some minor sleep apnea concerns, try to adjust your position while you sleep. Open the airway by laying flat on your back with a supportive pillow under the neck. The pillow positions the neck so that the airway is open.
- Lose weight. Many sleep apnea patients are also obese. The excess weight around your neck may put pressure on the airway or make it narrower. Losing ten percent of your weight can reduce symptoms significantly.
- Treat nasal allergies. Allergy sufferers often find their sleep apnea worsens during severe allergy season. Treat your allergies with a twenty-four hour antihistamine and decongestant to keep congestion out of the airway.
- Avoid sleeping pills and alcohol. Both sleeping pills and alcohol relax the body, including the muscles that surround the airway. Using these relaxants increases sleep apnea symptoms because when the body relaxes, the respiratory system slows.
- Try a breathing assistance device. Often sleep apnea patients will be prescribed a breathing assistance device. These devices usually involve a head piece or mask that creates a continuous positive pressure environment and essentially forces them to breathe. While patients may find they sleep and breathe better, many also complain about the discomfort of the mask and the noise of the machine.
If sleep apnea is a problem, see your physician for help. Sleep apnea may cause sufferers to fall asleep throughout the day, including when they are driving or working. Sleep apnea patients also frequently complain of fatigue, headaches, memory problems and weight gain. Gaining control of sleep apnea can improve your health and safety.