Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes poor sleep quality due to uncontrollable pauses in breathing, taking shallow breaths during sleep and suddenly waking up startled. During the night, someone with sleep apnea might repeatedly stop breathing up to 30 times every hour, often for very brief moments of time and without the person being aware of it at all. In fact, a scary finding is that many people with sleep apnea think that they actually get good sleep!
This is alarming it’s more than just heavy snoring — it’s a serious medical diagnoses, even potentially life-threatening, and can lead to various negative symptoms and a decreased quality of life. Because breaks in normal breathing cause less oxygen to make its way to the brain and elsewhere around the body, people with sleep apnea are triggered to wake up suddenly out of sleep and gasp for air in order to reopen their airways. The entire start-and-stop breathing process associated with sleep apnea can cause symptoms, including loud snoring, choking noises, poor sleep, and feelings of fatigue and anxiety during the day.
Missing sleep can take years off your life. Long-term complications of sleep apnea can include an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, memory problems, viruses and sexual dysfunction. (1) Sleep disturbances have also been correlated with car accidents, poor job performance, low grades in school, and higher susceptibility to common colds and the flu.
Many people with sleep apnea use a breathing mask to help control symptoms, but this won’t stop the underlying problems associated with sleep apnea, including inflammation of the throat muscles. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be treated and prevented by making lifestyle modifications, including losing weight, reducing inflammation, improving your diet and starting a regular exercise routine.
Natural Sleep Apnea Treatment
1. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
One reason that weight gain increases your risk for sleep apnea so much is because it makes it more likely that you’re essentially gaining weight on the inside of your neck, which affects your throat muscles and breathing capabilities. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to have sleep disturbances since fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct normal breathing. Some experts recommend getting a measurement of your collar size and neck circumference. If you’re a man with a neck circumference over 17 inches (43 centimeters) or a women over 15 inches (38 centimeters), you have a significantly higher risk for sleep apnea.