Everyone wants to receive a restful night’s sleep. Humans are the only living creatures that will delay sleeping on purpose. Every other mammal on the planet sleeps when their body tells them to. However, when you have untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) sometimes lack of sleep is inevitable.
Below are the list of 3 realities of living life with sleep apnea for patients after they are diagnosed:
Adapting to CPAP Machine/Mask
Avoid sleeping in the supine position (sleeping on your back). Sleeping in this position allows your tongue and throat muscles to relax easier and fall backwards into your airway and blocking it. For those with mild OSA, simply changing sleeping positions can relieve some obstructions. You can also raise the head of the bed. A 4-inch increase has been shown to help reduce snoring and mild OSA. This may be due to the effects of gravity, which cause the throat to naturally narrow when lying flat or in the supine position.
Diet and Exercise
All patients with OSA who are overweight should attempt a weight loss regimen. Weight loss will ultimately decrease the fatty tissue built up in the throat and aid in increased air flow during sleep. Weight loss will reduce snoring and apnea episodes in many people. With diet and exercise you will see a dramatic positive impact in the quality of your sleep and reduction in daytime sleepiness. In addition to receiving daily regular exercise, it is also important to watch what food you eat. Some examples of foods to avoid before bed are:
Meat – Loaded with proteins and fats keep your body working when you are trying to rest
Celery – A natural diuretic that pushes water through your system can wake you up in the middle of the night for an unscheduled bathroom break
Spicy Foods – Can cause indigestion in some people making it difficult to get comfortable and sleep well at night. It is also suggested to avoid heavy meals within three hours of bedtime. If you do find yourself hungry before bed, a lighter snack is recommended. Snacks which contain tryptophan and calcium such as a bowl of cereal, cheese and crackers, or peanut butter on toast will be your best bet for a successful night’s sleep.
Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs – Quitting, or at the very least reducing, your smoking and alcohol consumption will help relieve certain OSA issues. Smoke is an irritant that causes inflammation of the sensitive tissues in the throat and lungs. Smoke increases the swelling of these tissues that increase obstructions. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles allowing them to collapse into the airways and cause an obstruction. Avoid drinking alcohol 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. This can help alleviate the likelihood of blockage. While alcohol can make you extremely drowsy it can also interrupt your entering the more restorative deep sleep cycles.
As if getting diagnosed with OSA isn’t enough, doctors are now telling you that you need to sleep with a positive airway machine and a mask! Getting comfortable sleeping with your mask will likely be the most difficult part of your treatment. Studies estimate 30-50 percent of CPAP users do not like the treatment; another survey discovered that about half of patients stop using their device within 1-3 weeks of it being prescribed.
It is suggested to physically go into your local sleep center or clinic to test out the masks available. This allows you to appropriately find a mask most suitable to your face. You will be able to try the mask on, test the fit, check its weight and determine which mask will be most comfortable for you. Over time you will learn tips and tricks that work best for you regarding sleeping with your mask such as, at night time put your mask on before you start your machine. You will see in time that this trick will help seal your mask better.
Traveling with Sleep Apnea
Don’t let OSA stop you from traveling the world. Today with the increase of technology in the field of sleep medicine, OSA patients can now travel with ease. From travel specific therapy machines to more versatile accessories, OSA shouldn’t hinder your travel plans any longer.