Do you have the symptoms commonly associated with sleep apnea?
Do you or your loved ones snore while they sleep or constantly toss and turn? If you or someone in your family in the Bee Cave and Lakeway communities suffers from sleep apnea, you are certainly not alone. While many people are diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are many more people who are unaware they have a sleep disorder.
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects your breathing and overall well-being. It occurs when your breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep because the upper airway becomes blocked and stops airflow. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Chronic teeth grinding and clenching.
- Gasping episodes during sleep.
- Poor sleeping habits leading to restlessness during the daytime.
- Dry mouth.
While many people are given a CPAP device to help them breathe properly while sleeping, it can be bulky and uncomfortable to sleep with. Depending on whether your symptoms are mild or severe, you may be able to manage your sleep apnea symptoms at home.
Here are 5 simple ways to help you sleep comfortably if you are looking for alternatives or an adjunct to your CPAP device.
1. Evaluate your jaw and spine alignment.
Sleep apnea is caused by an improper jaw position or your tongue blocking the airway. It may help with your sleep apnea symptoms to see a chiropractor to help evaluate your upper cervical spine, which can influence your airway issue.
It may also be useful to visit an orthodontist who can determine if your teeth or jaw are out of alignment. An orthodontic solution could shift your teeth and jaw back into position, allowing your airways to stay clear when you sleep at night.
2. Limit alcohol and smoking habits.
Studies show that drinking alcohol and smoking only worsen sleep apnea complications. Alcohol leads to inflammation in your throat and can cause increased interruptions in sleep that affect your sleeping condition. Tobacco products also lead to inflammation and can cause people with sleep apnea to have increasing snoring and breathing interruptions, leading to less oxygen intake when sleeping. By restricting these habits or—better yet—eliminating them altogether, you could reduce your sleep apnea symptoms and improve your overall health.
3. Manage your weight.
One of the first home treatments doctors will recommend for people with sleep apnea is a healthy weight. If you are overweight, it contributes to airway obstruction and can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. Studies show that weight loss helps improve sleep apnea conditions and some people can even wean themselves off the CPAP device.
A healthy diet and exercise are always recommended, so it should be no surprise they’re recommended as an alternative sleep apnea treatment. Managing your weight can be difficult, so it may be helpful to speak to a nutritionist or physician in the Bee Cave and Lakeway community.
A diet incorporating healthy foods like honey, turmeric, garlic, and chamomile can also improve sleep apnea symptoms. Certain foods and herbs are anti-inflammatory and improve the relaxation of the muscles in the head and neck. It is also recommended to avoid a heavy meal right before bed because it contributes to sleep apnea symptoms.
4. Change your sleep position.
One of the main downsides of wearing a CPAP device is you have sleep on your back, which has been shown to actually worsen sleep apnea symptoms. By altering your sleep position, you can reposition your head, neck, and jaw to help you breathe better and get a better night’s rest. You should discuss proper sleeping habits and positioning with your primary care doctor to help aid in your sleep apnea treatment.
Choosing a proper pillow that helps position your head and neck so that your jaw position is not compromised can also help. There are specialized pillows made for people with sleep apnea as an adjunct to other treatments.
5. Visit your dentist for a sleep appliance.
Tomasik Family Dental offers treatment options for those with sleep apnea like night guards and bite splints. One way a nighttime appliance helps is that it repositions the jaw or tongue to open the airway and promote better breathing while you sleep. These appliances are supported by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine because they are custom made, therapeutic, cost-effective, and promote proper jaw positioning.
A sleep apnea appliance is beneficial for patients with mild sleep apnea because it is more comfortable and discreet, helps eliminate teeth grinding, is portable and easy to travel with, and costs less than a CPAP. Someone with severe sleep apnea should speak to their dentist and primary care doctor about the use of a night time dental appliance.
Explore your treatment option with your dentist today.
There is no cure for sleep apnea, but fortunately there are lots of treatment options to manage it. The prognosis for mild sleep apnea is very positive if it’s detected early and properly treated. The place to start for advice and treatment is a consultation with your dentist. At Tomasik Family Dental we are experienced in working with patients who want to improve their sleep quality. Call our office to book an appointment and wake up feeling refreshed and energized!