First, if you suspect you have sleep apnea — characterized by bouts at night with breathing cessation, even gasping for breath — it’s essential to see a sleep professional and get help. Treatment is often in store.
For mild sleep apnea, or even chronic snoring, however, there are steps that can be taken on your own that can help you get a better, if not great, night’s sleep. (As always, it’s best to seek the professional remedy.)
Here are six steps you can take for dealing with mild sleep apnea or chronic snoring:
- Lose weight. Snoring in general is both caused by and exacerbated by being overweight, which causes flab in the soft palate, leading to further air blockage and snoring.
- Sleep on your side. Easier said that done at times, but sleeping on your side relieves the tendency of the body to gasp for air and to snore in general. Lying on one’s back can cause the soft palate and uvula to close together and block air passage. Some people attach a tennis ball or two to the back of their nightgown or t-shirt to prevent sleeping on their back.
- Stop smoking and limit drinking. Smoking hardens the air passage, while drinking loosens the soft palate. Both can cause air passage blockage.
- Watch what you eat. This is a corollary to losing weight, but certain foods make for worse results in terms of creating flab in the soft palate and air passages. Sleep deprivation leads to a craving for carbohydrates for instant energy, but the carbs only pack the pounds on, so opt for a diet that restricts refined carbohydrates and relies on whole foods.
- Watch your allergies. If you develop hay fever or other allergies, take medications to control them. Allergies only worsen air passage and sleeping problems, leading to even worse sleep results.
- Develop good sleep hygiene. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night on a set routine. The body doesn’t react well when you constantly go to bed and arise at different times. Go steady and treat yourself to the best sleep you can get.
Again, if you suspect sleep apnea, the best course of action is to seek professional help, but the above tips can help you in the meantime.