Understanding Medical Problems

Two Lifestyle Changes That May Reduce Your Need For A CPAP Machine

Healthcare providers and those who offer sleep apnea services will often prescribe CPAP machines to people who suffer from sleep apnea as a means of keeping the airways open. However, many people don't like using them because they can be noisy and make it difficult to sleep. Here are two lifestyle changes you can make that may reduce your need to use the machine but still allow you to get a good night's rest.

Alter Your Sleep Position

One of the simplest changes you can make is to alter your sleep position. Although lying on your back is generally better for your back and can prevent acid reflux, it's not optimal for people with sleep apnea because your oral tissues are more likely to collapse into the airway while in this position. This is why even people who don't suffer from sleep apnea are prone to snoring while lying on their backs.

The best position for sleep apnea sufferers is on the side and preferably in a relaxed fetal position. Lying on your side aligns your head in such a way that helps keep the airways open. Additionally, sleeping in a relaxed fetal position can reduce your risk of developing a neurological disorder such as Alzheimer's because the brain does a better job of clearing out bodily wastes that may contribute to their onset.

Couple this position with an elevated pillow that promotes better head, neck, and back alignment, which can further protect airways and—at minimum—make your CPAP machine more effective.

Watch Your Diet

Consumption of certain foods and beverages can worsen sleep apnea. For instance, milk, ice cream, and similar dairy products can make phlegm in your throat thicker, which can potentially cause a blockage if you're already sick or struggling with allergies that causes an increase in mucus in your body.

Alcohol is a depressant that causes your body to relax more than it should during sleep and significantly increases the likelihood oral tissues will collapse into the airways. Even eating too much food before bed can stimulate bodily functions that aggravate your sleep apnea.

Avoid drinking alcohol and consuming dairy foods at least three hours before bed, and only eat something light if you're hungry (or wait an hour before going to sleep if you eat something heavy). Along those same lines, eating less to lose weight can also alleviate your sleep apnea, particularly if you are carrying around a lot of extra pounds.

For more tips on changes you can make to reduce your need for a CPAP machine or information about other treatments for sleep apnea, contact a specialist.