Sleep Apnea and Wellness: A Holistic Approach
For those living with sleep apnea, treating the disorder goes beyond just using a CPAP machine. Achieving full mind and body wellness requires a multifaceted lifestyle approach focused on diet, exercise, stress management, and overall health.
Improve Diet Quality
Poor diet negatively impacts sleep apnea. Refined sugars, processed foods, and unhealthy fats trigger inflammation, worsening breathing. A whole food, anti-inflammatory diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds provides nutrients for better sleep.
Losing weight also reduces apnea severity, so a healthy diet combined with portion control helps.
Increase Physical Activity
Regular exercise reduces sleep apnea severity and daytime tiredness. As little as 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity per week improves symptoms.
Strength training also tones and tightens throat muscles to open airways. Yoga, with positions focused on proper breathing, provides added benefits.
Overall, an active lifestyle prevents weight gain and reduces inflammation.
Practice Stress Relief
High stress and anxiety worsen sleep apnea, while apnea-related exhaustion increases stress. Breaking this cycle through meditation, counseling, or cognitive behavior therapy introduces healthy thought patterns and relaxation.
Massage, acupuncture, and music therapy also calm the mind. Decreased stress leads to easier, more restful sleep.
Optimize Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene means maintaining a cool, dark, quiet bedroom, limiting electronics before bedtime, avoiding large meals close to sleep, and establishing a consistent bedtime routine.
For apnea patients, sleeping on your side and using a humidifier also improves sleep quality. Ongoing positive hygiene habits promote restful nights.
Consider alternative treatments that may complement CPAP therapy. Some options include oral appliances fitted by dentists, certain over-the-counter nasal strips or sprays, positional therapy to prevent supine sleep, and surgical procedures in some cases. Find solutions that work best for your apnea and preferences.
Communicate With Your Doctor
Have candid conversations with your sleep doctor about challenges with your apnea treatment and ask about innovations on the horizon, such as pacemaker-like hypoglossal nerve stimulators.
Providing feedback helps optimize care. Also, inform your primary care doctor to coordinate comprehensive health management.
Join a Support Group
Connecting with others facing sleep apnea provides community, resources, and new perspectives on treatment approaches. Share your experiences and learn from your peers’ success stories. Online forums and in-person support groups exist through organizations like the AWAKE Network.
Sleep apnea treatment extends beyond the CPAP machine. Adopting positive lifestyle and wellness practices holistically can help people with sleep apnea finally get the rest they need to thrive.