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Sleep Apnea: What It Is and What to Do

Apnea del Sueño: Qué es y Qué Hacer para Superarla

There’s a good reason we spend one third of our lives sleeping. Consistent, healthy sleep is a major contributor to good health because it repairs and regulates every system in the body.

Let’s talk about Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is a serious but very treatable sleep disorder.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Normally, air flows in and out of your lungs and airways without stopping. OSA is a condition where your upper airway gets partially or completely blocked. Your diaphragm and chest muscles then have to work much harder to open the airway and inhale, and you actually stop breathing for about 10 seconds. Your brain wakes up the body to jumpstart its breathing.

These sleep interruptions are known as apnea or apneic episodes. Some people experience up to 400 episodes every night!

A doctor diagnoses you with sleep apnea after hearing your sleep history, examining your body, and conducting sleep and oxygen studies.

What are the symptoms of OSA?

Snoring is a telltale sign of OSA. Other symptoms include headaches and drowsiness during the day, irritability, poor job performance, and loss of interest in sex.

But suffering sleep apnea is more serious than daytime discomfort. Apneas deprive your brain—and the rest of your body—of needed oxygen. OSA contributes to serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even stroke.

Who is at risk for OSA?

OSA is most common in older adults or those experiencing obesity. Sleeping on the back is another contributing factor. Here are some specifics about those who are at risk for developing sleep apnea:

  • Children who have large tonsils or adenoids

  • Men with a collar size of 17 or larger, and women a collar size of 16 or larger

  • People with a large tongue or lax airway

  • People whose lower jaw is larger than their upper jaw (called retrognathia)

What are some natural treatment ideas?

Don’t stress

Evenings can be stressful for people with OSA because as bedtime approaches, they worry about getting good sleep. It’s important to manage your anxiety and set yourself up for a restful night. Try taking an ashwagandha supplement, which has been shown to reduce stress and cortisol levels.

Try to relax

Some people love drinking passionflower tea in the evening because it helps them relax and have a better mood before getting into bed. In addition, about 30 to 60 minutes before you want to sleep, take a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a chemical your body produces naturally to aid in falling and staying asleep. A supplement can give you the extra boost you need to drift comfortably off to dreamland.

Switch it up

If you sleep on your back, switch to sleeping on your side. This position will help prevent the tongue and other soft tissues in your upper airway from blocking your air passage. Put a pillow behind you to keep from rolling onto your back in the night.

Stay away from alcohol and smoking

To avoid OSA, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Smoking contributes to inflammation in the airways, and alcohol relaxes the throat muscles that control your breathing. Both worsen the symptoms of OSA.

Every pound counts

Try to lose some weight. Studies have shown that weight loss can significantly improve the symptoms of OSA. In one study of men experiencing obesity, those that lost an average of 40 pounds saw a 40% reduction in apneic episodes.

Give yourself the gift of good sleep. Lifestyle changes, supplements, and treatments your doctor suggests are a surefire combination to take control of OSA and get the sleep you need.

Let’s get better sleep together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio

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