What can I do to manage my sleep apnea?

There are a variety of lifestyle changes that you can make to help reduce your snoring and improve your sleep apnea symptoms. Behavioral changes such as quitting smoking or not drinking alcohol may improve sleep apnea symptoms. Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, which can cause you to snore or cause your airway to collapse. If you have allergies, taking a decongestant before you go to bed may help improve airflow through your nose.

If you have difficult sticking with your treatment plan or you cannot sleep even with treatment, your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy. A behavioral sleep specialist will help you eliminate the thoughts and behaviors that are preventing you from getting restful sleep or complying with your treatment.

This content originally appeared on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website.
Sleep apnea is generally caused by the obstruction of breathing passages while in a deep sleep. Managing this problem consists of methods to make this airway obstruction less likely. Weight loss for overweight or obese patients is critical and often very effective.

A common medical therapy for sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine during sleep. CPAP is a very effective treatment for sleep apnea, but some patients find that using the machine is difficult, while other patients are able to use a CPAP machine with no problems. 

Some patients with very large tonsils or a very large palate (roof of the mouth) may even benefit from a type of surgery to make the airway larger.

Losing weight if you are overweight helps relieve the pressure on your airway that contributes to your nighttime breathing pauses if you have sleep apnea.

Changing your sleeping position by using pillows or other props to keep you from lying on your back may help maintain an open airway.

Avoiding alcohol and any substance that slows your brain function, including central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as sedatives and muscle relaxants, also helps keep your airway clear.

Warning: Do not take sleep aids if you have or suspect you have sleep apnea. Sleep aids depress the central nervous system and can make pauses in breathing worse.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.