No matter how hard it seems in the beginning, living with sleep apnea is actually possible. All you need is a positive attitude towards it and willingness to make a change in your daily pattern. Losing your breath is always hard and it’s especially dangerous and life-threatening when it happens in your sleep, yet it’s manageable and something can definitely be done. If you too are suffering from this condition, here’s a quick guide to its symptoms and a few solutions.
What is sleep apnea? In short, sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing while asleep. These breathing pauses can be shorter or longer, depending on the severity of your disorder, and can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to as much as several minutes in some more complicated cases. Moreover, sleep apnea involves a choking hazard as well, which is especially dangerous for a sleeping person, while one of its most common and less harmful side effects are snorting noises. Sleep apnea can sometimes even lead to death, as in the case of the recently deceased actress Carrie Fisher whose death was caused in part by sleep apnea.
However, what causes this disorder and what can you do about it?
Sleeping pattern. Not being able to fall asleep for more than fifteen minutes after you’ve gone to bed night after night means you probably have an irregular sleeping pattern and need to do something about it. If you’re not getting enough rest or suffer from insomnia, your chances of developing serious sleep apnea will get much higher unless you react immediately. Getting used to a proper sleeping pattern can take some time, but it all comes down to going to bed and getting up at approximately the same time of the day, trying to relax before falling asleep, minimizing your stress level, cutting back on caffeine in the evening and not spending time on your phone before going to sleep. All of these ideas are simple enough for anyone to try them out, so be sure to do so as soon as possible.
Obesity. Excessive weight is one of the biggest concerns people today are facing and it can easily lead to serious health conditions. Therefore, besides not being satisfied with your looks, you can also face diabetes, a heart condition and sleep apnea. However, losing weight and becoming healthier isn’t that hard as long as you have a schedule and manage to stick to it. Instead of hitting the gym twice a day, you can opt for easier solutions such as walking, cutting sugar, drinking more water and eating low-fat food. These ideas are simple yet highly effective and you’ll start noticing results in a matter of weeks.
Precondition. You may not even know it until it’s too late, but sleep apnea often runs in the family. So, if you start experiencing signs of it, the first thing you should do is talk to your parents and relatives who might remember someone from your family dealing with sleep apnea in the past. The reason why this condition is hereditary is simple: it heavily relies on facial features and the position and size of your chin and tonsils, and that’s something you inherit from your parents. As a 2009 study showed, “most of the risk factors involved in the pathogenesis of OSAS are largely genetically determined.” So, when you’re visiting a doctor and complaining about your sleep apnea, be sure to mention a word or two about your family history as well.
Other causes and solutions. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only causes of sleep apnea. Some of the other factors are smoking, lack of physical activity, high level of stress, a tendency to sleep on your back and an improper choice of CPAP machine that’s supposed to treat your sleep apnea. Besides losing weight, checking your family history and trying to adapt to a new sleeping pattern, you might also want to cut back on cigarettes and alcohol, avoid sedatives and other pills, regulate your caffeine intake and try out activities such as swimming, yoga and Pilates.
Photo by Vladislav Muslakov