Sleep deprivation is becoming more and more common and our inner circles should have at least one person complaining of it. A common obstructive sleep disorder is known as sleep apnea. ‘Apnea’ means ‘no breath’ and most people suffer from obstructive sleep apnea which causes your airway to be disrupted during sleep. The normal breathing pattern resumes but with a snore.
In 2012, Sleep Help Foundation reported more than 2 million adults in USA have sleeping disorders. That number is on the rise at a frightening speed, raising a range of health associated cogitative and behavioral concerns.
As sleep is disrupted, a person affected is prone to risks like drowsiness, memory issues, high blood pressure other health effects. Contributing factors include obesity, gender, age etc. Middle-aged men are more likely to experience sleep apnea compared to women of their age or younger. Genetics is a 40% contributing factor to this condition.
One danger of sleep apnea or any sleep disorder in this case is drowsy driving which is the reason behind a whopping 30% of all motor vehicle accidents in USA. How do we, as civilians, curb our sleep deprivation or sleep apnea? How can we improve our sleep through calmer states of mind? Let us take a look.
1. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Weight gain or an unhealthy lifestyle will increase your likelihood of experiencing a sleep disorder and more so sleep apnea. Weight gain that affects the insides of your neck will have an effect on your throat muscles and breathing patterns when asleep.
Aim to lose 10 percent of your body weight. It has been shown that this percentage can suppress symptoms as it stops your airways from disintegrating while you sleep. Inflammation around the throat muscles can also be greatly reduced. Maintain a healthy weight and you will find it easier to get a good night’s rest.
2. A Good Sleeping Position
How many times have we heard that if you nudge a snorer and they roll over to the side, they will stop snoring? This works for most people. Side sleeping will bring relief from neck and the back, reducing the chances of snoring. This also works if you have acid reflux and it affects your ability to sleep.
Sleeping on the side is also worth a try because it induces better blood flow which provides less resistance in breathing conditions. It is an overall comforting position for any sleep disorder.
3. Stop excessive alcohol, smoking and overusing sedatives
This is probably the most clear out of all the methods that intoxicants and sedatives will disrupt your sleeping order. Smoking and regular consumption of alcohol causes inflammation and retention of fluids in our airways hence disturbing our sleep. Sleeping pills and sedatives on the other hand affect similarly and worsen snoring initiating fatigue throughout the day. Work on quitting smoking and avoid drinks hours before you go to bed.
4. An Effective Bedtime Routine
Practice a bedtime routine whereby you sleep and wake up at the same time every single day, even on weekends. Your body will accustom to a sleep rhythm and it will be easier to sleep and wake up in the morning.
Our bodies have a circadian rhythm, an internal 24-hour clock that works in our brain and cycles. The more constant and regular our circadian rhythm, the better it is our sleep in terms of quantity and quality. This is why we can find our alertness and drowsiness occurring at the same time every day. A regular sleeping routine will also keep our rhythm consistent.
Besides all the self-help treatments above, there are always corrective medical procedures that can improve our sleeping disorder and cure sleep apnea. There is Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP), a common treatment to regulate severe sleep apnea.
There are also implants and surgeries, especially for people with tonsillitis and a wealth of information available out there for other medical aid towards sleeping disorders. It is recommended to improve our lifestyle first with self-help alternatives and seek medical help when it is out of our hands.