Self Help For Sleep Apnea (Behavioral Treatments)
As a popular saying goes, “Self help is the best help an individual can offer to himself.”
Always self-care is the most correct way to deal with obstructive sleep apnea and sometimes for central sleep apnea and mixed apnea too.
The following are some of the self care guidelines that helps a person cope with sleep apnea.
1. A person who is over-weight might run a higher risk of developing sleep apnea. Due to excessive fatty growth of the body tissues there might be blockages in the airways. Therefore the best way to avoid sleep apnea is to lose weight in a healthy way. For those who are already suffering from sleep apnea even a slight loss in the excess weight might help them from throat constriction.
2. In obstructive sleep apnea, any contributor to the obstruction in the throat worsens the problem. Therefore avoiding alcohol, smoking and over the counter tranquilizers and sleeping pills will prevent the aggravating condition. Especially smoking has to be totally avoided as it adversely affects the condition causing congestion to happen. In case of alcohol it is better to restrain the usage at least 5 hours before sleep.
3. Most patients with this condition prevailing, cannot sleep on the back. This is due to the fact that the problem aggravates when the tongue and the soft palate rests on the throat causing a blockage to the airway. Sleeping on the back could cause a person to run into apnea more than 40-50 times in a night compared to when they roll on to their sides.
Some suggestions for a person to avoid apnea with respect to sleeping positions.
• To prevent sleeping on the back just roll a small ball into the shirt.
• Stretching or elevating the Neck during sleep can improve the condition of sleep apnea. To stretch the neck a special pillow made for the purpose can be used. This method effectively reduces snoring and improves sleep.
• Sleeping in the elevated upright position might help in improving the oxygen levels in overweight people with sleep apnea. So Elevating the head of the bed providing a slant for the back might help.
4. Using of decongestants and antihistamine on the nasal passage will prevent it from clogging. But it should be used often and this method needs direction from a physician.
5. Using of nasal strips such as ‘Breathe Right Strips’ might relieve the blocked nasal passages during sleep.
6. Sometimes it may be necessary to wear a mask at night to keep the throat open and improve breathing.
7. People with food allergies should avoid such foods that cause reactions, as it adds to their congestion.
8. Avoid having the meal just before bed time as it increases the congestion.
9. Learn to play “Didgeridoo”; an Australian wind instrument. It helps decreasing the collapsibility of the upper airways.
10. Follow regular sleep timings.
11. Keeping sinuses clear will reduce the problem and if needed take the help of a humidifier.
These self care suggestions will help a person with sleep apnea improve his overall health, personal life and quality of sleep. In addition emotional support from the family is must, apart from helping the person in following a medical regime and recovering fast.