A lot of folks have a snoring problem, but for some of us, the problem is far from trivial. Sleep apnea is characterized by excessive snoring, but the primary issue is that your breathing stops sporadically for periods of time during sleep, which can cause increased blood pressure and the restriction of oxygen to the brain and bloodstream. Fortunately, research shows that there are some simple self-care techniques that can dramatically improve this common condition.
First, let’s review the symptoms of sleep apnea:
Waking up during the night and feeling as if you’re gasping for breath
Problems falling asleep (or staying asleep once you do)
Chronic drowsiness or sleepiness
Waking up with dry mouth or an irritated throat
Symptoms of sleep deprivation during the day, even after a full night of sleep (i.e. headaches, problems with concentration, irritation)
If you allow this to go untreated, sleep apnea symptoms can increase the risk of serious health issues, including depression, heart disease, stroke or other life-threatening conditions. The best way to treat sleep apnea is to contact a local professional who can fit you for a sleep apnea mouthpiece or for more complicated cases, a CPAP machine. Oral appliances (mouthpieces) are most effective in the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea, although they do provide a treatment alternative for patients with severe symptoms. That being said, there are some simple lifestyle changes that you can make to help improve your condition and alleviate symptoms.
Avoid food and drinks that can affect your sleep quality, such as caffeinated beverages. You’ll want to avoid sugar as much as possible, as it affects hormones in the body that can disrupt your ability to fall or stay asleep.
Be more consistent with your bedtime. The human body loves consistency, and allowing yourself enough time to sleep (a recommended bare minimum is seven hours) at the same time each night can improve symptoms.
When it comes to exercise, especially if you prefer to work out in the evenings, try activities that especially help release stress hormones. We highly recommend yoga, but a dedicated stretching session of around ten minutes can help regulate your body. All forms of exercise are crucial for sleep apnea self-care, so be sure to include cardio!
If you’d like to discuss your situation with a trained and experienced professional who has had years of both diagnosing and treating sleep apnea, Dr. Austin and his team would love to sit down with you. You can call our Maumelle or Little Rock office to set an appointment or schedule one directly on this website. Here at Austin Family Dentistry, we offer total dental care for the whole family, including kids' dental care, family orthodontics, sedation dentistry, and more. We can not only treat your sleep apnea, but we can provide a convenient family dental care option for you and your loved ones!