Sleep apnea is the enemy of a good night’s rest. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have it. People are waking up exhausted, falling asleep at work or at the wheel, and at risk for high blood pressure (or worse). Fortunately, it is possible to get a good night’s sleep with sleep apnea. We’re going to discuss some of the ways you can do that.  

What is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that prevents people from breathing normally at night. Breath is typically interrupted, meaning you could go around 10 seconds without breathing before you start again. This is usually due to the muscles in the throat contracting when they shouldn’t. The fragmented breathing causes a restless night’s sleep.  

Why Should I Treat my Sleep Apnea? 

If sleep apnea goes untreated, a lot of things can go wrong. The body needs sleep. Sleep helps with the clearing of toxins, the ability to concentrate, and the ability to fight off infections. Here are a few things that sleep apnea can cause if it goes untreated: 

  • Fatigue 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart attacks 
  • Congestive heart failure 
  • Cardiac arrhythmia 
  • Stroke 
  • Depression 
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety 

Knowing this, it’s probably best to look at treatment options as soon as possible. The good news is that there are many, many treatment options. As mentioned earlier, sleep apnea is common. Scientists have worked long and hard at finding ways for people to live with this and for people to be cured from this. Many treatments will allow you to lead a perfectly normally life with sleep apnea.  

What Kind of Treatment Should I Start With? 

If you’ve been properly diagnosed with sleep apnea by a professional (don’t diagnose yourself!) it’s time to start looking at ways to live with this. Any health professional will recommend two things to start with: proper diet and exercise.  

In order for you to heal from anything, your body needs to be strong enough to fight it off. It won’t be able to do that if it isn’t being treated properly. A diet low in saturated fats and high in whole grains will aid with weight loss. Getting healthy will also help with your energy levels and your ability to fight sleep apnea. Obesity is not only a symptom of sleep apnea – it’s a cause.  

Alongside proper diet and exercise, oral appliances are largely popular in the sleep apnea community. Let’s take some time to discuss those.  

What is a CPAP? 

The CPAP is a device constructed to aid in your air flow while you’re sleeping. It is plugged into a wall. You use it by placing a mask over your nose and mouth before bed each night. While you’re sleeping, it works to gently blow air through your nose and mouth, giving you a steady stream of oxygen while you sleep. It has helped millions of people in managing their sleep apnea. If used properly, the CPAP machine should allow you to wake up feeling refreshed. It should help in eliminating all symptoms of sleep apnea.  

Unfortunately, many people don’t use it properly. It can be difficult to place the mask in the “perfect” position, and even if you do, it can slip around if you’re an aggressive sleeper. There are other downsides to using a CPAP. For example, it can be hard on your partner. The machine can be quite noisy, disrupting the sleep of the people around you. The CPAP isn’t very “romantic”, either. Forget leaning over to kiss your partner. They’d be met with a large plastic mask in their face. Another thing about the CPAP is that it isn’t always tolerated very well. It can rub against sensitive skin causing eczema outbreaks, or it can be too uncomfortable to sleep with. This is why the CPAP isn’t always the first thing that is recommended in the treatment of sleep apnea.  

What are Alternative Oral Appliances?  

Thankfully, there are other options for handling sleep apnea. One of the most popular solutions is the use of oral appliances other than the CPAP. Oftentimes, sleep apnea can be caused by a misaligned jaw, a small jaw, small upper airways, or a recessed chin. Simple oral appliances can help people get a good night’s sleep and enough oxygen. 

Some of the most common oral appliances are mouth guards. Mouth guards can be custom-fitted to be comfortable. Good oral appliances are usually the ones that you don’t notice while you’re sleeping. The only types of oral appliances that should be used are the ones that are created by dentists. It is always best to know where your appliances are coming from. Finding a place like Sleep Better Columbus with a caring and educated staff is your best bet. It is also important that all of the devices you choose to use are registered with the FDA. As long as you follow these guidelines, you can’t go wrong.  

After trying non-invasive approaches like mouth guards, you may see a significant decrease or elimination in your sleep apnea symptoms. This is the goal. Don’t settle for less than that. Remember that millions of people around the world suffer from sleep apnea, and they lead perfectly normal lives. As long as you’re diligent about wearing your mouth pieces and getting them from a qualified source, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be symptom-free.  

The Importance of Seeing a Specialist

Remember that as you’re going into this looking for treatment, you should always be looking to professionals for advice. Trying to fix it yourself (or even diagnosing yourself) won’t guarantee real help. It’s also best to only take sleep apnea tests administered by professionals rather than buying yourself one online (from an unreliable source). Most medical care professionals will either recommend an at-home sleep apnea test or they’ll ask you to spend the night being monitored in a medical facility. Both types of tests are perfectly safe and pain-free. 

Call Better Sleep Columbus at (614) 362-7292 to learn how to sleep with sleep apnea and discuss your options with a qualified professional.