10 Best Tips for Relieving Sleep Apnea Symptoms
How To Stop Your Nightly Snoring and Get Relief From Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea affects millions of adults but remains an underdiagnosed condition as many believe chronic snoring to be normal. Most undiagnosed cases of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. OSA occurs when the alignment of the jaw and soft tissues within the throat fall backward during sleep, momentarily cutting off the airway and resulting in snoring.
Snoring isn’t the only thing that can happen with untreated OSA. Over time, many patients begin to experience additional symptoms such as chronic daytime fatigue, mental fog, insomnia, and chronic headaches. They may even begin to show poor performance at work and during daily activities.
First things first: If you suspect you have OSA or you snore most nights, bring this up to your dentist or doctor for a screening. If sleep apnea is indicated, you’ll be referred to a specialist for diagnosis. But while you wait for a diagnosis, here are some helpful tips for getting some relief from sleep apnea symptoms. You can continue using these tips in addition to CPAP use or other OSA treatment as well!
1. Try a different sleeping position.
Sleeping on your back is a huge trigger for snoring, even in mild OSA cases. Experiment with different sleeping positions and pillows to see what works best. If you’re a back sleeper, switching to your side often helps alleviate snoring. You can also try sleeping with your head slightly elevated.
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight is extremely helpful in managing OSA symptoms. If you’re overweight, a great first step is to lose weight through exercise and healthy eating. However, be kind to yourself and listen to your body. Untreated OSA often causes a lot of fatigue and can make exercise exhausting.
If you find yourself struggling to exercise, focus first on other OSA management tips, and as you feel better, begin to add in more daily exercise.
3. Add a humidifier to your bedroom.
A dry environment not only worsens OSA symptoms but can also lead to other side effects, including dry mouth, respiratory irritation, and congestion. Adding a humidifier near your bedside will raise the humidity level during the night. You’ll feel respiratory relief and be able to breathe clearer, which in turn helps reduce snoring.
4. Quit smoking and alcohol consumption.
Tobacco use, vaping, and excessive alcohol consumption not only negatively impact your overall health, but they also exacerbate OSA and other types of sleep apnea. If you’re a habitual smoker or tobacco user or tend to enjoy alcohol in excess, consider quitting these habits. Your doctor can help you find resources to kick these habits to the curb in a healthy, effective manner.
5. Avoid taking over-the-counter sleep aids.
OSA sufferers often find themselves in a pickle when it comes to sleep aids. OSA can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading many to over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids or supplements. However, OTC sleep aids, and even natural sleep supplements, (e.g., melatonin) aren’t designed with sleep apnea in mind and can actually worsen your OSA symptoms over time.
If you simply can’t sleep without some type of medicinal aid, speak with your doctor to find a safe solution.
6. Consult your doctor about any allergies.
It’s possible to have OSA and allergies simultaneously without realizing it. If you’re experiencing chronic snoring along with congestion, stuffy nose, itchy eyes, or other classic allergy symptoms, your body may be reacting to an environmental allergen. Your doctor can help you find an OTC allergy medication to help control your symptoms, thereby making your OSA symptoms easier to manage.
7. Use an app to track your sleep quality.
If you have access to an app store on your phone, you have access to a number of different sleep-tracking apps. You can use these to help your dentist or doctor screen for sleep apnea or, after diagnosis, track your sleep quality digitally. They even have apps specifically designed for people with OSA, and many high-tech CPAP machines now have accompanying apps to show you your sleep data.
8. Practice throat exercises on a daily basis.
Throat and breathing exercises can help strengthen the throat muscles. Deep breathing exercises are relaxing and can help improve your breathing, especially when done before bed. Throat exercises, and even daily singing, can also help increase lung capacity and strengthen the surrounding muscles. Now you have a great excuse to sing your heart out in the car or in the shower!
9. Eat a balanced diet that includes whole foods.
Eating a balanced, nutritious diet isn’t just about weight maintenance. Food is fuel for the body and has a drastic impact on both how you feel and how well you sleep. Indulging a sweet tooth on occasion is perfectly fine, but try to base your main meals and snacks around healthy options that are minimally processed. Eating whole, natural foods is an easy way to get your daily vitamin and mineral needs.
10. Ask your dentist about oral appliances.
Your doctor isn’t the only health professional who can help you with your OSA. Your dentist also plays a pivotal role. Not only can a dentist screen for OSA and refer for diagnosis, but they can also provide OSA therapy to help treat symptoms. These are typically oral appliances worn at night. The most popular appliance is called a mandibular advancement device, which gently repositions the jaw to prevent soft tissues in the throat from falling backward into the airway.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Therapy at Farless Dental Group
The dentists at Farless Dental Group can provide effective treatment solutions for sleep apnea that will help stop your snoring.
We primarily help patients with mild to moderate cases of OSA that can be resolved with oral appliances. If your OSA case is more severe or your symptoms do not respond to traditional methods, we’ll work together with your general practitioner to find a solution. If you’d like to schedule a sleep apnea evaluation along with a dental checkup, you can do so today by calling our Greensboro, North Carolina office or requesting a visit online.