When a person experiences short of breath or even stops breathing for a short period of time during sleep the condition is termed as sleep apnea. This is a very common sleep disorder and can be experienced for about 10 seconds during sleep recurring many times at night. The common culprit causing sleep apnea is the blockage or narrowing of the airways either in the throat, mouth or nose. Sometimes sleep apnea is also caused when brain signals fail to be transmitted from the brain to the breathing muscles.
Sleep apnea can be experienced by anybody and not limited to adults alone. However commonly it is seen to affect males more than females.
Common Causes of Sleep Apnea
- Being overweight
Many people, when they gain weight the fat tissue builds up in the windpipe and block the airways. This causes obstructive sleep apnea. Though this remains the main cause many other problems can cause sleep apnea.
- An abnormal anatomy of the upper airway
Several abnormalities that may occur in the upper airway obstruct it and cause sleep apnea. Sometimes people are born with abnormalities that causes the airway to close. Conditions such as an enlarged tonsils or even adenoids can make the airway smaller leading to sleep apnea.
- Certain drugs
The regular consumption of alcohol relaxes the upper airway muscles and leads to their collapse. Similarly intake of sedatives and pain relief medication has the same effect causing sleep apnea.
- Reduction in muscle tone due to old age
As age sets in people generally use muscle tone and relaxes the airway. This leads obstruction while in sleep causing sleep apnea.
- Dreaming and sleeping on your back
When you sleep on your back there is a higher probability of the occurrence of sleep apnea. The excessive weight that is forced onto the upper body when you sleep on your back causes collapse of the airway leading to sleep apnea. Apart from sleeping on the back, sleep apnea is also caused when dreaming. During REM sleep the muscles tend to relax and collapses the airway.
People at Risk
- Individuals who have very small airways sometimes due to allergies or other conditions
- individuals with a family history
- African-Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders
- people with high blood pressure
- people with risk factors for stroke or heart failure
Symptoms are very difficult to detect as they usually happen in sleep. Many a times the most common symptom is snoring that is loud and chronic which will most definitely be followed by gasping and choking. However, not everybody who snores is a victim of sleep apnea.
- Other symptoms are
- sleeping during daytime
- severe headaches during the day
- finding it difficult to concentrate
- poor memory
- being irritable
- dry throat
Sleep apnea if left untreated may cause different conditions like heart diseases, stroke, depression and high blood pressure.
There are few natural remedies for sleep apnea.
- Weight loss–
This is the most important and effective remedy for sleep apnea. People who suffer from sleep apnea are mostly overweight and are ecstatic to find out that the apnea disappears as soon as some weight is lost. There are researches and studies that prove aggressive weight loss programs have helped people with apnea to be cured completely. However, weight-loss programs need to have regular exercise and a good diet included. In addition to weight loss, exercise may also help in increasing the oxygen spread from within the body along with training the muscles.
- Altering the sleep position–
Lying on the back closes the throat muscles and forces the tongue to fall back on the throat. This can be easily prevented by lying on the side thereby reducing sleep apnea. When the neck is allowed to rest at a natural angle by reducing the number of pillows it allows your chin to be pushed forward towards the chest and opens the airway. This automatically helps reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
- Incorporating minerals and vitamins–
Studies have proven that including minerals and vitamins in your diet reduces the symptoms considerably
- Incorporating herbs in the diet
Sleeping issues can be addressed by including different herbal remedies. Girls like lavender and California Poppy are seen to work well in reducing sleep apnea.
Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that help in treating sleep apnea. These anti-inflammatory properties easily reduce any kind of swelling that form in the throat area leading to obstruction. The throat is also lubricated thereby reducing snoring. In addition honey helps in relaxation and improving sleep. Honey is also helpful in maintaining a very good body weight thereby preventing obesity.
Including a tablespoon of honey being mixed in warm water just before bedtime is the best way to consume honey for sleep apnea.
- Including Chamomile
Chamomile contains certain compounds that can help in relaxation of muscles and nerves giving you a sedative effect thereby improving sleep. Apart from this chamomile also has anti-inflammatory characteristics that prevent obstruction of airways.
Mixing 2 teaspoons of chamomile into a cup of hot water, let it stay for 5 min after which strain the water and consume just before going to bed adding a pinch of honey and cinnamon powder.
This herb has sedative properties and therefore can help you sleep well. Including a teaspoon of grated ginger along with a small cinnamon stick to a cup of hot water, boil it and strain. Drinking there’s just before going to bed adding a pinch of honey to it the very good remedy to cure sleep apnea
The anti-inflammatory property of garlic helps a lot in reducing inflammation helping in easier breathing. In addition this the enlarged tonsils can be soothed and snoring is prevented.
This herb has anti-inflammatory properties too that reduce airway blockages. Gargling warm water with a few drops of peppermint oil can do a lot of good to alleviate sleep apnea. Drinking peppermint tea is another option.
The distressing sleep apnea can be alleviated by following these minor remedies. Ensure to follow these to fall asleep easily and wake up rested and peaceful.