Sleep apnea is a medical condition characterized by shallow breaths or a long pause in the breathing while sleeping. This happens since the airways become constricted leading to pauses in breathing that can go from a few seconds to several minutes. The disease is a chronic condition that causes fatigue during the day since the patients have a disrupted sleeping pattern leading to excessive daytime sleepiness.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common (affects between 3 to 7 percent of the patients) and it’s characterized by a collapse or a narrowing of the airway causing a disruption of the normal sleeping cycles and lower the oxygen intake in the blood. Usually apnea patients snore loudly and stop breathing for short periods of time and partners are the first ones to notice these symptoms.
Nowadays CPAP is used and recommend by doctors all over the world, although it has disadvantages such as discomfort that leads about to half of the patients to abandon the therapy. There is an increasing interest in alternatives, mainly natural treatments, therefore in the article we present you natural ways to cure sleep apnea without going through painful or uncomfortable treatments.
1. Manage Your Weight
Over-weight or obese people have a high tendency to develop sleep apnea since thick necks with excessive tissues in the throat may lead to a block in the breathing area. When a patient has the possibility to lose weight on him(her)self it is a good option to treat sleep apnea. Although this method is one of the most efficient (since there is a direct link between overweight and sleep apnea) it takes a long time to achieve and some patients give up before getting to their main goal.
Usually combining a healthy diet with exercise to weight loss help individuals to leave CPAP treatments to (in some cases) a total cure for the fatigue and apnea. One of the most efficient treatment is based on exercising four times a week with exercises like moderate aerobic for 40 minutes associated with weight trainings 2 times a week. Besides losing weight, the patient feels tired easing the sleep.
Since this methodology takes a longer time to achieve patients tend to lose their enthusiasm and give up easily, although it is important to focus on the future results and on the improving of the health condition in general to keep motivated during training.
The sleeping position is determinant for people how suffer from sleep apnea. Usually patients sleep on their backs (so called “supine position”) which unfortunately helps sleep apnea to develop. This can be easily changed when people start sleeping on the side, providing the breathing to return to its normal cycle.
People tend to move while they sleep, therefore there is a device to wear around the waist and back to keep the same sleeping position. This method seems to be effective since in clinical studies ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22261242) patients had remarkable results, indicating that the use of this simple device can be used as treatment and dismiss CPAP. Other option is to use pillows around you on your bed to prevent movements during sleeping or use a device that wakes you up when you are lying on your back.
Changing some habits can play a key role in treating naturally sleep apnea. Some behavior features like smoking and drinking worsen the sleep apnea symptoms. Alcohol has a relaxing effect on muscles easing snoring and the collapse of the airway. Besides some sedatives and sleeping pills make the symptoms worse.
Sleep apnea patients that also suffer with allergies also can take a decongestant to help breathing.
Lavender oil is also known for its relaxing, smoothing and sedative properties, it is recommended to put some drops of lavender oil on a cloth or a towel under your pillow. Besides the oil can also be added on boiling water and inhale.
Epsom salt has also specific benefic properties on relaxing muscles and creating a general feel of wellbeing. A warm bath with Epsom salts for about 20 minutes can help relax, sleep better and reduce snoring.
4. Use A Mandibular Device
Sleep apnea is caused by a lower air flow, therefore one of the options is to help the air circulation in your mouth. Using a mandibular device, the patient mouth to sleep will allow the entrance of the airflow without restrictions. These devices are adjustable and made of a lot of varied materials, but they may cause tooth shifting and mandibular pain leading most of the patients to give up on this option and search for pain free ones.
5. Realize Throat Exercises
The air flow passage is the main problem for people who suffer from sleep apnea. Some exercises can be made to help the air to have an easier passage.
One of the recommended exercises consists in blowing up a balloon as much as possible with deep breaths without taking the balloon out between breaths. As in physical exercise this requires a daily commitment of repeating the exercise for 10 minutes every day for at least 3 months to notice satisfactory results. The important part on this process is not give up and improve in every try.
6. Use Food That Helps Your Body
Some foods are known for having specific properties that can cure or relieve some symptoms in many diseases. Sleep apnea isn’t an exception.
Honey has been used for ages since it is a rich food and has known and recognizable properties, namely anti-inflammatory that reduce swelling on the throat and helps patients’ breath better. Besides it also reduces snoring due to its viscosity that lubricates the throat. It is advised to add a tablespoon of honey to a tea or a glass of warm water and drink it before going to bed.
Cinnamon is also recommended to treat sleep apnea since it has sedative properties and is known for helping people breath better. It should be added a teaspoon of cinnamon to a glass of water and drink it daily.
Garlic is used as a natural treatment to avoid CPAP since it also has anti-inflammatory properties and relives the pain for large tonsils opening the airways and consequently eases breathing. Garlic should be added to the daily meals and it is recommended to eat 2 or 3 cloves and follow with a glass of water every day.
Chamomile is known for its muscle and nerves relaxing properties. It is recommended to drink a glass of water with chamomile of tea 5 minutes before going to bed.
Peppermint prevents snoring due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used in the form of oil, using a few drops in a glass of water and you can drink it a little before going to bed or in the form of tea anytime during the day.
Almonds are highly appreciated all over the world for its texture and taste and commonly used in desserts and dishes. Rich in magnesium, almonds improves muscle relaxation and ease sleep. It is recommended to eat a handful of almonds every day to help treat sleep apnea.
Milk with turmeric, this explosive mixture has a lot of beneficial properties for people who suffer with sleep apnea. Warm milk is known for promoting sleep and turmeric is used due to its anti-inflammatory properties allowing a better breathing. A teaspoon of turmeric powder should be added to a boiling milk. The patient should drink one cup 30 minutes before going to bed.
7. Raise the head of Your Bed
People with acid reflux are familiar with raising the head of the bed to have a better night of sleep. It works the same way for people who suffer from sleep apnea. It is recommended raise the head of the bed about 4 to 6 inches (or 10 to 15 centimeters) with pillows (using a cervical pillow adjust the height, several regular pillows won’t work since they are too soft and will end up lower the height the head weight) or bricks under the bed.
8. Take Antioxidant Supplements
There is an increased interest in using antioxidant supplements since numerous studies have been informing about their benefits to human health. It is important to rise the antioxidant ability of our body since sleep apnea is associated with oxidative stress. Sounds weird? Oxidative stress is a biological condition where there is a misbalance between the production of oxygen reactive species and their elimination form the organism. The excess of these compounds in the organism leads to a lot of diseases (like cancer, Parkinson or Alzheimer’s) and it’s also responsible for sleep apnea.
In sleep apnea oxidative stress related there is decreased blood levels of the main antioxidants (vitamin E, β-carotene and other carotenoids) which is called “endothelial dysfunction” and characterized for the for the contraction of the blood vessels. Some natural antioxidant remedies have been found with benefic effects for treating sleep apnea. The antioxidants known with better results on treating sleeping apnea are vitamins C and E and a compound called n-acetyl-cysteine. Raising the intake of these substances will reduce the oxygen reactive species in your body and prevent endothelial dysfunction, responsible for sleep apnea.
9. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Although it is hard to pronounce, docosahexaenoic acid may be helpful for those who suffer from sleep apnea. This supplement is found in fish oils, particularly the ones rich in the fatty acid omega-3 DHA. When there are lower omega-3 levels on the organism (specially DHA type) usually people suffer from severe cases of sleep apnea. DHA has the same potential as antioxidant supplements since it reduces oxidative stress in the organisms. Besides helping reduce sleep apnea DHA is good for helping reduce cholesterol levels and improve your general health.
10. Take a Lot of Vitamin D
You’ve probably heard all your life about the importance of vitamin D for your bones to help fixate calcium, but vitamin D has other benefits for your organism. In some studies, was found that patients with sleep apnea usually have lower levers than healthy people, leading doctors and scientists to assume that this vitamin plays a fundamental role in sleep apnea mechanism. Besides that, patients who also have problems with insulin regulation and regulation the blood sugar also have this deficiency (including patients with diabetes, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome and resistance to insulin). More severe situations of sleep apnea associated with high sugars in blood usually have the lover vitamin D values on their organisms, indicating a direct correlation between all these factors.
Blood sugar disturbances in patients with inflammation associated with sleep apnea are easily treated with vitamin D. The treatment is so effective that it is recommended that even when the patient doesn’t have these problems, it is recommended to take at least 2000IU of vitamin D to prevent or treat the disease. After treatment most patients feel relieved, sleep better and feel less tired and with no longer muscle pain.
Besides taking vitamin D pills, it is recommended to take some sunbaths for at least 15 minutes a day in lower UV radiation hours without sun cream, if you have a darker skin tone it is recommended to stay for at least one hour. Also, foods like cod liver oil, eggs, oysters, orange juice, canned tuna, mushrooms, sardines, salmon, liver, milk and cheese are rich in vitamin D and their daily uptake is recommended to help get enough of this vitamin every day.
Besides vitamin D helps rising the absorption of calcium and phosphorus on the intestine, prevents diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension (that lead to sleep apnea), makes your immune system stronger and prevents some types of cancer.