Often overlooked, this sleeping disorder affects a portion of the population in Western countries, particularly in the United States. Blatant ignorance of this sickness is like signing up for your worst health nightmares because it is linked to several other chronic health conditions like daytime sleepiness, cognitive dysfunction, poor work performance, high blood pressure, abnormalities in glucose metabolism, anxiety, impotence, fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events, and even one’s overall risk of death.
The odds of contracting sleep apnea in your lifetime are moderate, to say the least, however, you do not want to leave things to chance.
The prevalence of moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing conditions in U.S. adult men is 10%-17% and for women, it is 3%-9%. More specifically, about 2%-7% of the adult population has obstructive sleep apnea. These figures are not absolutes and may vary depending on your lifestyle. Needless to say, you have a higher risk of sleep apnea if you are careless with what you do, eat, drink, and whatever it is you intake that affects your physical well-being.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), otherwise commonly referred to as sleep apnea, is a condition involving frequent episodes of upper airway collapse while sleeping. This results in a person not being able to breathe while their airway is blocked. The complete obstruction of the airway typically occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse against the back of the throat, blocking airflow to the lungs.
The term “apnea” refers to the act of inability to breathe for at least 10 seconds. People who are afflicted with sleep apnea take at least 15 episodes or more of not being able to breathe each hour while they are sleeping. This results in abnormal, irregular, and unhealthy sleeping habits. Eventually, it will lead to a number of moderate to serious medical conditions aforementioned.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Currently, there is no medical trajectory in the foreseeable future yet that we can confidently say there is a specific medication to cure sleep apnea. But sleep apnea can be treated in numerous ways and is dependent on a number of factors.
Present-day sleep apnea treatments come in all sorts of packages, ranging from diet and lifestyle medications, oral appliances, topical medicines, CPAP therapy, and surgery.
- CPAP Therapy
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is one of the most common treatments that people with sleep apnea undergo. This therapy uses a CPAP machine to pump air through the airway by wearing a mask connected to it. The process is designed to open up breathing blockages during sleep so the irregular breathing pattern is relieved, ensuring you of a good night’s sleep. To keep your device germ-free and well-functioning, you can opt to invest in a CPAP cleaner that uses either UV light or oxygen technology.
However, if you find such methods to be too drastic, then you may want to shift to a more natural alternative.
- Dieting and Exercise
The norm of dieting and exercise is mostly correlated to people who just want to lose unwanted pounds, gain a better-looking physique, and other bodily descriptions that are aesthetic in nature. But this trite cliché is more beneficial than you think and if you are battling a case of sleep apnea, you are in luck.
The stats will tell you a compelling story: There is a 40% prevalence rate of sleep apnea in overweight men, and this increases to 40%-90% in obese men with a BMI greater than 40 kg/m². This only means that anyone who is overweight or obese is more at risk for sleep apnea. In fact, about 60% or more sleep apnea diagnosed patients fall under this category. Needless to say, if you are an obese or overweight person who happens to suffer from this sleeping disorder, you can counteract and possibly treat it for good just by losing weight.
If spending on a CPAP device is out of your budget reach yet, an old-fashioned way of dieting is your next best option. If done right, you can experience about a 30%-50% reduction in sleep apnea severity and that already is no small feat that bars any negative side effects.
- Whole food, plant-based diet is the most common form of diet and it is most likely to give you long-term and sustainable weight loss. If you can’t imagine life without meat, choose poultry and fish over beef and pork as they’re easier to digest. Having this kind of diet on your to-do-list will help you lose weight, achieve that beach body goal, prevent chronic diseases, and most importantly, it will help you to sleep better again.
- You can also reduce sleep apnea symptoms by committing to a specific type of diet called the Mediterranean Diet. It is characterized by a healthy intake of Greek food as well as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, fish, and alcohol in moderation. If you are already taking stuff like extra-virgin olive oil, almonds, peas, lentils, and white meat, then you are on the right track. This combination is known to contain low levels of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium. In contrast, start avoiding foods that are high in sugar, including red meat, soda, pastries, baked goods, and processed foods.
- Want to fast track your sleep apnea treatment? Incorporate exercise into your diet. Having excess body fat around the neck, waist, and abdomen increase the chances of having sleep apnea since it is more likely that your airway will be restricted due to that excess matter around your neck. To eliminate excess body fat fast, start doing some physical activity. If you can, try doing some exercises that target your neck and legs. Sleep specialists deduced that these areas are inclined to fluid accumulation, thus creating pressure on surrounding vessels and the blood flow.
In hindsight, sleep apnea sounds like a disease that requires every medical resource in the world. The dire health consequences speak for itself. But just by digging beneath the tip of the iceberg, you can tell that the root causes of sleep apnea are very much manageable.
If you are opting for CPAP therapy, make sure to also acquire a high-quality CPAP cleaner to prevent yourself from getting exposed to more germs, viruses, and bacteria.
However, a few lifestyle modifications such as dieting and exercise will go a long way. It starts with a mindset, then follows it up with a commitment to discipline and pushing yourself. Your body should do the rest for you.