Home Remedies for Light Sleep Apnea

The severity of a health issue often mirrors the degree of therapy prescribed. Health care providers might recommend immediate lifestyle and a change in diet as a first line of attack, while prescription drugs and possibly surgery might be the approach in more severe situations. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an example of a disorder that sometimes responds well to simple changes in sleep habits if the condition is not severe.

People with OSA may experience a temporary breathing stoppage during sleep, usually lasting 10 seconds or more. When the tongue or other fatty tissue in the throat relaxes, it blocks the air passage to produce this syndrome. This may occur multiple times during the night, leading to snoring and gasping. Often the interrupted sleep causes fatigue the following day.


Diagnosing OSA

The classic way to determine the existence and severity of OSA is a formal sleep study. Physicians specializing in sleep disorders observe and measure the patient's breathing, oxygen levels, heart rate, brain activity and muscle movements during a full night at a specially equipped sleep laboratory. With the results, a physician can uncover any sleep disorder and establish whether it is light, moderate or severe.

Not everyone has the money, insurance coverage or time to participate in a full sleep study, so sometimes other methods may help ascertain the sleeping problem. A cooperative sleep partner or use of a sound recorder could establish snoring patterns. Daytime fatigue is another good tipoff for sleep apnea. At this point, making a concerted effort to experiment and change sleeping positions may yield some positive results and reduce the number of interrupted breathing events. Changing the sleep position only helps people with light or moderate OSA. Position changes will not relieve severe cases nor will they affect anyone with a different type of sleep apnea, such as central apnea.

The Best Sleep Positions To Ease OSA

Whether you use a special pillow or some type of homemade device, the goal is to stay sleeping on your side to reduce episodes of interrupted breathing. Sleeping on your back can constrict the flow of air in the passage and cause the soft palate to close off your breathing. By remaining on your side, the air passage stays open, reducing snoring and apnea events. Some experts also recommend putting a pillow between the legs or bending the knees and pulling the legs into a fetal position for maximum benefit.

Contour foam pillows mold themselves to your neck and shoulder to provide support as you sleep on your side. Other commercial products, such as different types of bumper belts, keep you from rolling over on your back as you sleep.

Don't forget to pay attention to other good sleeping habits too. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, especially before bedtime. Walk or exercise every day. Maintain a consistent bedtime, and keep your bedroom clutter-free, cool and dark.

If you have been experiencing snoring, daytime fatigue and perhaps even depression, try making some simple lifestyle and sleep position changes. The results may surprise you. If you continue to experience problems, however, make sure to call your physician right away and schedule an appointment. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious disorder that needs immediate attention.

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