While many people have an idea of what sleep apnea is, it’s not until they go through the diagnostic process that they discover the dangers of this condition. People who experience chronic sleep apnea will often experience chronic diseases and cardiovascular distress and can even die due to their illness.
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it’s important to seek a professional opinion immediately. Here are some of the practical steps you can take to improve your sleep apnea.
Invest in a CPAP, BiPAP, or APAP
After getting a sleep apnea test, your doctor will likely direct you to use a breathing machine. The CPAP machine delivers a constant stream of air through your nose to keep your airway open and your lungs oxygenated. You can get these as both full-face masks and smaller nasal cannula options.
BiPAP and APAP machines are used less frequently. The BiPAP is similar to the CPAP, but the airflow adjusts based on your breathing. Unfortunately, the BiPAP isn’t ideal for everyone— follow your doctor’s guidance.
The APAP props your airway open as you sleep and is typically used for apnea patients who don’t see results with a CPAP.
Switch to a Firm Mattress
If you use a soft mattress or mattress topper, it may be time to consider an upgrade— especially if you’re a heavier individual. Firm mattresses offer additional support to prevent sinking, keeping the airway aligned and open. Heavier people tend to sink into a mattress more than a lighter individual, which exacerbates the issue when a soft bed is used.
Fortunately, there are several strategies for making your mattress firmer if you aren’t due for an upgrade. You can invest in a firm mattress topper or place a piece of plywood between the mattress and box spring. If you haven’t flipped your mattress lately, this option can also help get you through until it’s time for an upgrade.
Elevating your upper half can also help offset the effects of sleep apnea. Rather than using soft pillows, consider investing in a sleep apnea pillow wedge. This affordable device adds a firm, ramp-like structure under your pillows to improve your airflow as you sleep.
If you’re someone who tends to snore less when you fall asleep in your favorite chair, adding elevation to your bed is a great strategy.
Increase the Humidity
Dry air makes sleep apnea notably worse and aggravates the throat, further exacerbating the pain and irritation caused by sleep apnea. If the air in your home is too dry, consider placing a small humidifier in your room while you sleep.
If you start using a humidifier, remember to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, as they can grow mold or mildew if neglected.
Increase Cardiovascular Exercise
Doctors often advise that people with sleep apnea lose weight, but it’s sometimes more complicated than that. There are plenty of muscular weightlifters and bodybuilders with little body fat and an intense training regimen that experience sleep apnea.
Rather than focusing solely on weight loss, set a goal to incorporate more cardiovascular exercise into your routine. The interrupting oxygen flow from apnea puts strain on the heart; cardiovascular exercise can strengthen it.
Try Breathing Exercises
Breathing seems like second nature, but many of us breathe incorrectly or insufficiently for our body’s needs. Many doctors and sleep specialists recommend yoga, as this low-impact exercise teaches people to breathe deeply through strenuous holds.
In addition to yoga breathing, you can try targeted breathing exercises to relax, strengthen your diaphragm, and promote better sleep.
Seeking medical assistance is a must when dealing with sleep apnea. However, there are plenty of steps you can take at home to improve the experience and your quality of life.