A recent study by the NHS observes that as many as 1.5 million individuals throughout the United Kingdom suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). In fact, estimates claim that four per cent of men and two per cent of women deal with OSA on a regular basis (1).
However, it is also believed that many more individuals may be unaware of the presence of this condition; leading to potentially serious health issues later in life.
While the importance of testing and the use of a CPAP machine are obviously both critical in terms of your well-being, a number of lifestyle changes can also have a very positive impact. Let us first take a look at some of the risks associated with OSA before moving on to discuss how you can improve the overall outlook.
Why Obstructive Sleep Apnea Cannot be Ignored
Most of us aware aware that obtaining a restful night of sleep is key if we hope to remain alert and focused throughout the day. However, did you know that OSA can lead to other serious conditions which might even represent life-threatening situations in the future? Some worrisome examples include (but are not necessarily limited to):
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain (particularly around the midsection)
It is therefore altogether obvious that you will need to make some changes if you hope to avert these scenarios. One of the first steps is to regularly utilise your CPAP machine.
The Importance of CPAP Therapy
Sleep therapists always recommend using a CPAP machine overnight, as it will help your airways remain open; providing your body with the critical levels of oxygen that it requires. While this might take some getting used to, the fact of the matter is that you will learn to adapt and obtain the rest that you so desperately require.
However, it is just as logical that specific lifestyle changes can have a pronounced impact upon the prevalence and severity of OSA. Here are some excellent and practical suggestions for reducing and improving your sleep apnea and why each can produce viable results within a relatively short period of time:
1. Cutting Out Cigarettes and Alcohol
We are all well aware that smoking and drinking are bad for our health. Not only do these substances expose our bodies to numerous toxins, but they are highly addictive. When we factor OSA into the equations, the dangers become even more profound. Smoking irritates the airways; further exacerbating your symptoms.
So, it is a wise choice to quit cigarettes altogether if you desire improvement. The good news is that ceasing this nasty habit is actually much easier than you may think. Take a look at some excellent tips below:
- Make a realistic plan to take things “one day at a time”.
- Try to consume less meat and fatty foods such as pizza. It has been shown that these substances can bring on cravings.
- Find something do to immediately after finishing a meal. You might otherwise be tempted to light a cigarette.
- Add exercise into your daily routine in order to reduce cravings.
- Join a support group so that you can discuss your issues with similar individuals.
The same holds true for alcohol in regards to its sedating properties. While drinking might help you to fall asleep, the fact of the matter is that you will not be receiving the quality rest that your body requires to heal itself on a daily basis.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also be quite dangerous, as you might not be able to wake up if you begin choking or if your CPAP mask happens to fall off while sleeping.
Guidelines provided by the NHS recommend that you consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week. In other words, smoking and drinking should be eliminated from your normal habits.
2. Losing Weight
It is a well-known fact that individuals who are overweight are more likely to suffer from OSA. This partially arises from the tendency to develop a thicker neck; placing greater pressure upon your airway when you are sleeping. So, it stands to reason that beginning a weight loss plan is always a good idea. However, this is often easier said than done.
Diets can be difficult to follow and even tougher to adjust to if others are eating tempting foods. Still, it is wise to speak with a weight loss specialist to determine how many calories you require as well as what foods should be eliminated (such as fatty substances, fizzy drinks, and foods high in carbohydrates).
While dieting is always a great lifestyle change, it might not be enough to achieve your goals. This brings us to the next main point.
3. The Power of Exercise
It can be difficult to handle an exercise routine if you are already quite busy. This is why it is a good idea to start out slow; perhaps only exercising five or ten minutes each day.
When you begin feeling the positive results, you will obviously want to increase the time spent performing such activities. Exercise also releases “feel-good” chemicals known as endorphins. These will provide you with a greater amount of energy and some can even help you fall asleep faster in the evening.
It is nonetheless wise to approach any exercise routine with a handful of suggestions in mind:
- Be realistic in regards to what you are trying to achieve.
- Use the buddy system if you happen to have issues with motivation.
- Do not overdo things; this will only hamper your progress.
- Create a varied routine to avoid boredom and fatigue.
- Consult with an exercise specialist to appreciate what movements are the best for your unique goals.
It is also critical to mention that a hidden benefit of exercise will directly impact your OSA. As we push our bodies harder through routines such as jogging or aerobics, they are forced to cope with this increased level of physical stress.
Muscles will begin to grow and bones will become stronger. However, our lung capacity will likewise increase. This arises from the fact that the body requires more oxygen in order to meet the physical demands of exercise.
Greater lung capacity signifies that the symptoms of your OSA are likely to be alleviated to an extent. When this is utilised in conjunction with the other suggestions mentioned above, the effects are very real indeed.
Sleep Testing: The Definitive Answer
We began this article by highlighting a handful of important figures directly related to OSA. You may also recall that many experts estimate the actual number of sufferers to be significantly higher. This is why it is critical to obtain an accurate diagnosis in order to appreciate the treatment options at your disposal. At-home sleep tests are some of the best ways to begin the process. They are quick, simple and straightforward. Answers are supplied within a matter of days and you can thereafter begin to consult with a therapist in order to move forward.
Obstructive sleep apnoea needs to be diagnosed and dealt with promptly if you hope to avoid future health issues. So, please feel free to refer back to this article for further information and above all, take our sleep test so that you can be provided with definitive answers. The first step involved with treating a problem is becoming aware of its existence.
To learn if you have obstructive sleep apnoea, there’s a very simple at-home test you can take. Results will be available within a few days, and will sent to only you — not shared with any agency. You can then talk with your doctor about the next steps you should take. You can live a very happy, normal life — and get the sleep you need — with treatment.
To order the Intus In-Home Sleep Test: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk/product/in-home-sleep-test/