Sleep apnea is a condition that can cause you to stop breathing for a short period while you’re sleeping. If you have sleep apnea, you don’t take in enough oxygen and this can cause you to wake up gasping.
You may not even be aware that you suffer from sleep apnea if your breath stoppages don’t cause you to fully wake up. There are three types of sleep apnea with different root causes, but all three types cause people to stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping, sometimes hundreds of times a night.
Find out what type of sleep apnea you have
The three different types of sleep apnea are obstructive, central and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is most common and happens when your throat muscles relax and block your airway. Some essential oils for sleep can be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea is a result of your brain not sending the right signals to muscles that control your breathing. If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can have serious health consequences, such as poor immune function, increased risk of heart failure, memory problems and more. Only a sleep study can show that it is present and how severe it is.
If you are diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea, you may need to take medication, wear a CPAP device or have surgery. However, some lifestyle changes may reduce episodes of mild sleep apnea and improve your sleep quality.
Maintain a healthy weight
Doctors usually recommend that people with sleep apnea reduce their weight. Obesity can narrow nasal passages and increase the risk of restricted airways.
Even modestly reducing your weight can eliminate the need for upper airway surgery or long-term use of a breathing device. In some cases, losing weight can eliminate sleep apnea. However, if you gain back the weight, it can return.
Avoid alcohol and smoking
You can reduce some of the complications of sleep apnea if you stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles and can lead to snoring and an interrupted sleep cycle.
It can also lead to inflammation in the airways which can block airflow. Tobacco use also contributes to swelling and inflammation of airways. This worsens snoring and contributes to sleep apnea.
Use essential oils
Essential oils can help with sleep complaints ranging from snoring to insomnia. Marjoram is a comforting essential oil with sedative properties. You can diffuse it near the bed while you sleep or alternatively, rub a few drops into the soles of your feet and under your toes. Other essential oils popularly used to induce sleep are geranium, lavender and thyme.
Dilute a few drops of geranium or lavender essential oil into suitable carrier oil. Massage it into your neck and chest to help with sleep disruptions. Alternatively, you can diffuse it near your bed. Thyme is often used to treat respiratory conditions and can help to clear blocked airways.
Use oral appliances
Oral appliances can help with sleep apnea by repositioning your tongue or jaw to keep your airways open while you sleep. These devices either move your tongue or lower jaw forward to decrease obstruction at the back of your throat.
You can buy them at pharmacies or have them custom-fitted by dentists. Some people who can’t tolerate a CPAP device may find relief from using an oral appliance instead.
Some home remedies and lifestyle changes can reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. However, prescribed medicines and surgery may be required. If you pursue alternative treatments and your symptoms persist, you will need to seek medical attention.