Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can cause you to gain weight.3 Losing weight (if you’re overweight) can help with the sleep apnea as well as enhancing your overall health.4
Quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol intake (particularly in the evening) can also help reduce obstructive sleep apnea.5
Some people only experience sleep apnea when they sleep on their back. When sleeping on their side they breathe just fine. If this is you, then positional therapy may be the answer. The idea is to stop you rolling onto your back. The simplest way is to sew a tennis ball into the back of your pyjamas.
There are also more high-tech solutions: gadgets that sense if you roll onto your back, and then gentle urge you to move back onto your side. Learn more
CPAP stands for ‘continuous positive airway pressure’. CPAP therapy is the gold standard for treating sleep apnea. It’s a device that delivers a constant flow of air via a mask while you sleep, preventing your airway from becoming blocked and enabling you to sleep peacefully and awaken refreshed. Learn more about CPAP therapy.
Bi-level (or Bi-PAP) machines are similar to CPAP machines except that they deliver a lower pressure when you’re breathing out. If you need higher pressure to treat your sleep apnea, you may find it difficult to adjust to regular CPAP and bi-level may be more comfortable for you.
A specially designed custom mouthguard may work as an alternative to CPAP therapy. An example of this is called a ‘Narval™CC. It works by holding your bottom jaw in a forward position, which makes more space behind your tongue.
Narval is effective in relieving snoring as well as mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. People with more severe obstructive sleep apnea who can’t manage to use CPAP may be advised to give one of these a try.
If CPAP and/or mandibular therapy haven’t worked for you, one or more invasive surgical options can be performed as a sleep apnea treatment. Your surgeon may recommend one or more of these as a last resort:
Central sleep apnea may affect up to 20% of people with sleep apnea.10 Central sleep apnea is different to obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. You just stop breathing for 10 seconds or more while you’re asleep. Eventually, reduced oxygen levels trigger you to take a breath.
Treatment for central sleep apnea may include:
Mild sleep apnea is when you’re having between 5 and 14 breathing pauses every hour.14 If you have mild sleep apnea, and you have no other medical conditions or risk factors, you can try using lifestyle changes and regular monitoring to manage your sleep apnea9.
In addition to achieving your ideal weight, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol, you can also try using a humidifier to decrease congestion in your airways and keep your nose unblocked. If you don’t mind the smell you can try using essential oils such as thyme, rose or eucalyptus. These are known for their anti-inflammatory effects.15
If you still have symptoms after trying these methods, it’s time to talk to one of our friendly sleep coaches to discuss your next steps.
Source: www.health.harvard.edu/blog/weight-loss-breathing-devices-still-best-for-treating-obstructive-sleep-apnea-201310026713 Accessed 11 June 2019
Source: Chirinos JA et al.N Engl J Med. 2014 Jun 12;370(24):2265-75.
Source: https://www.sleepapnea.org/weight-matters-obesity-and-sleep-apnea/ Accessed 11 June 2019.
Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081319.htm accessed 11 June 2019.
Source: http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/sleep-apnea/treatment Accessed 11 June 2019.
Source: Bignold JJ et al. J Clin Sleep Med. 2009 Oct 15;5(5):428-30.
Source: Omobomi O and Quan SF, Sleep Breath. 2018 May;22(2):297-304
Source: Vecchierini MF et al. Sleep Med. 2016 Mar;19:131-40.
Source: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/snoring accessed 7 June 2019.
Source: https://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea/central-sleep-apnea/ accessed 7 Aug 2019.
Source: Allam, J.S., et al., Chest, 2007. 132(6): p. 1839-46.
Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/home-remedies-for-sleep-apnea#treatment Accessed 11 June 2019.
Source: Zheng-tao, LV et al. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. April 4; 2016
Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-dangers-of-uncontrolled-sleep-apnea accessed 2 July 2019.
Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/essential-oils-for-inflammation#research accessed 2 July 2019.