central sleep apnea

It's estimated that about 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. 80% of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea cases, however, go undiagnosed.

Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing for short periods while you sleep. 

Without enough sleep, you could develop a number of health problems, including mood changes, high blood pressure, and weight gain. You'll also put yourself at risk of diabetes and heart disease. Sleep apnea is also linked to mental health issues, poor immunity, and increased memory loss. 

Don't let central sleep apnea affect your overall quality of life and health.

Instead, get the treatment you need. Here are eight ways you can leave with severe sleep apnea. With these tips, you can improve your sleep cycle and get the rest you need.

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

One of the most common recommendations doctors make to patients with sleep apnea is to lose weight. Obesity can sometimes increase the risk of airway obstruction. If you're overweight, it could also increase your risk of narrow nasal passages.

Both obstructions could cause you to stop breathing while you sleep.

By maintaining a healthy weight, you can keep your airways clear and reduce your symptoms. According to research, weight reduction with obese patients can reduce the need for surgery or long-term therapy.

For some patients, reducing their weight can eliminate their severe sleep apnea altogether. However, it's also possible that regaining the weight could cause the sleep apnea to return. 

2. Pick Up Yoga

Exercising every day provides a number of health benefits, including:

  • Increased energy levels
  • A stronger heart
  • Reduced sleep apnea

If you're not in the mood for intense cardio, consider picking up yoga.

Yoga is a great way to improve your respiratory strength. Learning deep breathing techniques can also encourage oxygen flow. 

Sleep apnea is connected with decreased oxygen saturation in your blood. When you fail to breathe properly, your body won't get the oxygen it needs. Yoga's breathing exercises can help improve your oxygen levels.

By picking up yoga, you can possibly reduce the number of sleep interruptions you experience each night. 

3. Adjust Your Position

The smallest change in your sleeping position can also help reduce your central sleep apnea symptoms. By reducing your symptoms, you can get the full night's rest your body needs. 

In this study, 55.8% of patients experienced obstructive sleep apnea syndrome because of their sleep position. 

For some people, sleeping on your back (the supine position) can make sleep apnea symptoms worse. For these adults, sleeping on their side helped return their breathing patterns to normal. 

Consider speaking to your doctor. They can review your body positioning and sleep apnea symptoms with you. They can also evaluate your options for treatment to ensure you get enough sleep. 

4. Use a Humidifier

Does the air in your bedroom feel a little dry? Dry air can irritate your body and respiratory system. Consider purchasing a humidifier.

Humidifiers are devices that add moisture in the air.

By putting a humidifier in your bedroom, it can also:

  • Encourage cleaner breathing
  • Decrease congestion
  • Open your airways

You can also add essential oils to your humidifier. Oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint have anti-inflammatory properties. These essential oils can soothe your mind and body to help you sleep. 

Some humidifiers can harbor molds and bacteria. It's important to keep your humidifier clean to ensure the best results. 

5. Cut Out Alcohol and Smoking

Unhealthy habits such as smoking and alcohol can increase your sleep apnea symptoms. Instead, consider making a few lifestyle changes to improve your overall health. Cutting out these habits can help encourage a better, fuller night's sleep. 

Drinking alcohol will only relax the throat muscles that control your ability to breathe.

Alcohol consumption can lead to snoring and sleep cycle interruptions. It can also contribute to inflammation. When your airways are inflamed, it could block airflow. 

Like alcohol, tobacco can also cause inflammation and swelling. Both habits can make your snoring and central sleep apnea symptoms worse. 

Try cutting out these habits as part of your at-home central sleep apnea treatment.

6. Use an Oral Appliance

There are a number of oral appliances that can help reposition your jaw or tongue as you sleep. Repositioning these areas will keep your airway open. As a result, you'll breathe easier during the night.

There are two main categories you can choose from: mandibular advancement devices and tongue stabilizing devices. Both devices move your lower jaw or tongue forward. This decreases the obstruction in the back of your throat.

Many of these appliances are low-cost and available over-the-counter. You might also consider purchasing an oral appliance that's custom-fitted by a dentist. 

Using these appliances is ideal if you can't tolerate a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.

7. Try Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

If you decide to try CPAP, the treatment will require you to wear a mask over your nose or mouth as you sleep.

The mask is connected to a machine that delivers a constant stream of air to your nose. The continuous airflow will keep your airways open. That way, you can breathe properly even as you sleep.

CPAP devices are the most common form of treatment for severe and mild sleep apnea.

You might also consider bi-level positive airway pressure devices, or BPAP. While they're similar to CPAP devices, BPAP changes the airflow when you breathe in and out.

8. Consider Surgery

If these techniques for living with central sleep apnea don't work, you might want to consider surgery. This treatment option is often recommended if you have a medical condition that narrows your throat. Possible conditions include:

  • Enlarged tonsils
  • A small lower jaw with an overbite
  • A deviated nasal septum

If you have one of these conditions, there are a few options available. For example, nasal surgery can fix problems such as a deviated septum.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a procedure that involves taking soft tissue from the back of your throat and palate. This surgery will make your airway wider.

Your doctor might also recommend mandibular maxillomandibular advancement surgery. This surgery fixes throat blockages and facial problems that contribute to sleep apnea. You can discuss your options with a doctor to determine which treatment is right for you.

Sweet Dreams: 8 Tips for Living With Central Sleep Apnea

Don't let central sleep apnea affect your overall quality of life. Instead, give these eight tips a try. By learning how to live with your severe sleep apnea, you can get the rest you need.

Sweet dreams!

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