Sleep apnea, also spelled sleep apnoea,is a sleep disorder in which the person repeatedly stops and starts breathing anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes at a time during sleep. And, it is more common than you think.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, about 22 million Americans suffer from this disorder, with a whopping 80 percent of these cases yet to be diagnosed.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about this disorder including the best sleeping position for sleep apnea.
What Are the Three Types of Apnea?
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea – OSA, the most common form of this sleep disorder, occurs when the airway closes due to the relaxation of the throat muscles during sleep.
- Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to remind the muscles to breathe due to imbalanced respiratory control centers.
- Complicated or Mixed Sleep Apnea – This category is a combination of the first two types of sleep apnea.
How Many Apneas Per Hour Is Normal?
Specialists have what they call the Apnea-Hypnoapnea Index (AHI), which is the number of the apnea or hypoapnea per hour of sleep during evaluation. The higher the number, the more severe the disorder is.
An AHI of 0 to 5 is still within the normal range. Mild sleep apnea can be determined if the AHI is 5 to 15 while people with an AHI of 15 to 30 has moderate sleep apnea. Finally, an AHI of more than 30 is considered to be severe sleep apnea.
What Is the Best Sleeping Position for Sleep Apnea?
It is recommended that people with sleep apnea sleep on their side as this helps keep the airways open. If you find that you keep changing position as you sleep, this Moonlight Slumber Comfort-U Total Body Support Pillow will help keep you in place.
Is It Better to Sleep on Your Left or Right Side?
Sleeping on your left side is helpful when it comes to sleep apnea since it can provide better breathing conditions as well as the best blood flow. However, if you are obese or have heart issues, you should consult with your doctor first.
Can Sleeping with the Head Elevated Help with Sleep Apnea?
Sleeping with your head elevated can help if your sleep apnea is caused by restricted airways. Elevating the head of the bed for about 30 to 40 degrees can improve your sleep apnea.
For this, something like the Classic Brands Adjustable Bed Base can provide you with a quick fix. It even comes with a plethora of features that will help you relax.
Can You Sleep on Your Side with a Wedge Pillow?
Aside from an adjustable bed, a wedge pillow like the Medslant Wedge Pillow can support your upper body at an angle. The FitPlus Premium Wedge Pillow is another product worth checking out if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative.
Both of these sleep apnea wedge pillows are soft enough for comfort but firm enough to give you the elevation and support that you need. Wedge pillows and adjustable beds are great for sleep apnea since they can elevate your head while letting you sleep on your side.
Can Sleep Apnea Cause You to Gain Weight?
Lack of quality sleep disrupt our hormone levels. This make us crave for sweets and carbs. And, since we’re feeling tired all the time because of the lack of sleep, we lack the motivation to exercise, ultimately leading to weight gain.
How Serious Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that can increase your risk for health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, adult asthma and acid reflux. It will also leave you feeling tired and groggy, raising your risk for car accidents.
Can You Die If You Have Sleep Apnea?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of developing other serious conditions and encountering dangerous situations which can ultimately lead to death. There are also some studies that link sleep apnea to an increased chance of premature death.
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, but it is more prevalent in men and those aged over 40. Other risk factors and causes include the following.
- Being overweight
- A large neck size
- Enlarged tonsils or tongue
- A small jaw bone
- A family history of sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
- Sinus problems
- Deviated septum
Can You Be Thin and Have Sleep Apnea?
Yes, you can be thin and still have sleep apnea. Being overweight is just one of the many risk factors related to sleep apnea.
Can You Get Rid of Sleep Apnea? Can Sleep Apnea Go Away on Its Own?
Sleep apnea can be cured but it rarely goes away on its own.
How Do You Cure Sleep Apnea?
There are several ways that sleep apnea can be cured and controlled. The treatment that you will get will depend on your sleep apnea’s type and severity as well as your preferences.
- Have a heart-healthy diet.
- Limit your alcohol intake especially before going to bed.
- Exercise and regularly engage in physical activity.
- Have a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking.
- CPAP machines are one of the most popular treatments recommended by doctors.
- BiPap machines are similar to CPAP machines but it has dual pressure settings.
- Mouthpieces help with sleep apnea by opening the upper airway. Usually, your doctor will recommend you to an orthodontist or dentist to have one custom fitted to you.
- For a cheaper alternative you can use a boil and bite mouth guard
- This kind of treatment requires surgery to implant the device in your body. The device functions by checking your breathing pattern and stimulating the muscles responsible for keeping your airways open during sleep.
- Orofacial therapy can also be done to strengthen the muscles associated to sleep apnea and improve tongue positioning.
- Severe sleep apnea that does not respond to other types of treatment might require surgical procedures like tonsillectomy, jaw advancement and tracheostomy.
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that can increase your risks of acquiring other life-threatening conditions. That said, sleep apnea isn’t without a cure. With a healthy lifestyle and certain treatments, you can cure sleep apnea or, at least, manage it.
One of the easiest ways to improve your sleep apnea lies in your sleeping position. In fact, an adjustable bed or a good wedge pillow might be just what you need to get a good night’s sleep. However, if your sleep apnea still persists, it’s best to consult your doctor.