- Lifestyle changes are an important part of our treatment program and in mild cases, lifestyle changes may be all that is required.
- While a diagnosis of sleep apnoea can be scary, it is a treatable condition therefore, home remedies and lifestyle modifications can go a long way in reducing sleep apnoea symptoms but in no way should replace medical evaluation and treatment.
Below is a list of some of the recommended lifestyle changes to alleviate symptoms which include:
Weight loss. People who are overweight have extra tissue in the back of their throat that can block the flow of air into the lungs while they sleep. Modest weight reduction of 3-5kg may reduce the severity of snoring and sleep apnoea in some patients reducing the need for long term CPAP therapy.
Exercise. Reducing your weight to a healthy range with exercise and a healthy diet can significantly improve your sleep pattern. Exercising 3 to 5 times a week is highly recommended as exercise increases serotonin levels, which in turn promotes sleep. Aerobic and resistance training can also help reduce sleep apnoea symptoms, while yoga is good for strengthening the muscles in your airways and improve breathing.
Alcohol. Consumption of alcohol makes snoring and sleep apnoea worse as it increases upper airway muscle relaxation. This in turn makes the muscles more susceptible to collapsing and restricting the upper airway. Individuals with sleep apnoea should avoid drinking alcohol for at least 4 hours before going to bed as well as keeping to below two standard drinks daily.
Caffeine/smoking. Stimulants such as coffee and tobacco should be avoided for at least 4 hours before going to bed, as it may take several hours for the caffeine to be eliminated from the body. Smoking and tobacco also causes swelling and irritation to the upper airway, giving rise to sleep apnoea symptoms
Some additional recommendations for getting a good night’s sleep include:
Food. A light healthy snack before bed is okay as an empty stomach can interfere with sleep. Having a warm cup of milk or caffeine-free herbal tea can also help to induce sleep.
Television and reading. Avoid watching television in bed as this may stimulate the brain and delay sleep onset. If you like reading in bed to encourage sleep, use a 15-watt light bulb or less.
Sleeping schedule. Having a routine regular bedtime and rising time daily, as it will encourage good quality sleep. The best practise is to aim for 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Try to avoid having naps during the day to ensure that you are tired at bedtime.