If you’ve started showing signs of sleep apnea, there are some measures you can take to improve your overall health and prevent progression of the disease. The ideas listed below will help you undo the damage that is causing you sleep apnea:

Improve Your Diet

You may roll your eyes at this suggestion, but you’ve only heard it so many times because it is solid advice. If you really want to prevent the progression of your sleep apnea symptoms you should avoid processed foods, as not only will this help you lose weight, but process foods can acidify the blood which causes heavier breathing because the body requires carbon dioxide to regulate the blood’s pH. Red meat and high-grain meals can also have an adverse effect on your breathing, so it is a good idea to cut back on these meals before bedtime.

Exercise

If you’ve only just started showing symptoms of sleep apnea, this may be because you’ve put on a little weight that is constricting your throat. Doing a little extra exercise can help you lose this weight (that is sometimes barely visible in the mirror). Studies have also shown that regular exercise can help ease symptoms of sleep apnea even without this weight loss, not to mention the other health benefits you’ll gain with the extra exercise. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, try walking purposefully for 20-30 minutes a day and see your symptoms improve.

Change Your Sleep Posture

If you are showing signs of sleep apnea, chances are you are sleeping flat on your back. Instead, try sleeping on your side or on your stomach, and use a couple of pillows under your shoulders head so it is slightly elevated. Sleeping on your back can cause the tongue and soft palate to rest against the back of your throat, which obstructs the airway, and ensure your head isn’t getting pushed down into your chest. If this happens, invest in foam wedges to raise your upper body.

Avoid Smoking and Other Respiratory Irritants

Smoking and other respiratory irritants such as vaping, mold, dust and perfumes can worsen sleep apnea, as it can cause inflammation in the throat which causes or worsens the obstruction.

Problems with Alcohol and Sleeping Pills

While alcohol and sleeping pills may feel like a solution for helping you get to sleep, they also may relax muscles in the back of the throat which interferes with breathing.  

It’s important you make these changes now, but if you see your symptoms become more severe or you aren’t able to correct the problem on your own, you should speak to a medical professional about your symptoms.

A message from Dr. Amy Hartsfield: At TMJ & Sleep Solutions of Alabama, our mission is to provide personalized care to restore quality of life, one patient at a time. If you are experiencing issues with sleep, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment!