310 N. Suite 1, Winchester Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95050 (408) 549-1602

Lifestyle Changes for Sleep Apnea Treatment
Home sleep-apnea Sleep Apnea & Lifestyle Changes

Small Changes, Big Impact

Do you regularly wake up feeling exhausted despite a full night's sleep? Have you been told you snore, gasp, or stop breathing during the night? These could be signs you’re one of the many Americans suffering from sleep apnea without even knowing it.

Left untreated, sleep apnea robs you of restorative rest and puts you at higher risk for severe health conditions. But the good news is with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can finally get the peaceful sleep you’ve been missing out on. At Bay Area Sleep Solutions & Pain Center, Santa Clara, CA, sleep dentist, Dr. Pooja Goel treats patients from the greater San Jose area. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, contact our office at (408) 549-1602.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 or more times per hour when breathing pauses or becomes very shallow, oxygen levels in the blood drop. This triggers the brain to briefly wake up to resume breathing, though these awakenings are usually so brief that the patient doesn't remember them.

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - The more common form of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by airway collapse during sleep. This blocks oxygen from getting to the lungs.
  • Central sleep apnea - the less common type, central sleep apnea is caused by a delay in signals from the brain that tell the muscles to breathe.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea - Complex sleep apnea or mixed sleep apnea is when both obstructive and central sleep apnea are present.

Sleep apnea increases the risk of other medical issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Fortunately, effective treatments are available, especially when sleep apnea is diagnosed early.

What Puts You At Risk For Sleep Apnea?

Several factors increase sleep apnea risk:

  • Being Overweight or Obese - Excess fat deposits around the neck and throat obstruct breathing. Weight loss often improves OSA symptoms.
  • Large Neck Size - Neck circumference over 17 inches in men and 16 inches in women correlates to higher risk.
  • Gender - Men are at greater risk than premenopausal women. Hormones may offer protection for women.
  • Age - Sleep apnea risk increases with age as throat muscles weaken.
  • Family History - Having close relatives with sleep apnea increases your risk.
  • Use of Alcohol, Sedatives or Tranquilizers - These substances relax throat muscles further.
  • Smoking - Smokers are three times more likely to have OSA than non-smokers.

At Bay Area Sleep Solutions & Pain Center in Santa Clara, CA, Dr. Goel evaluates patients for sleep apnea risk factors as part of our comprehensive diagnostic process. She can also advise on lifestyle improvements to reduce OSA severity.

Restless Nights

Lifestyle Changes You Can Make

If you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, don't be dismayed. There are many positive lifestyle changes you can adopt to prevent apnea events and improve your sleep.

Lose Excess Weight

Even a 10% reduction in body weight can lead to improved breathing and reduced severity of sleep apnea symptoms. Consult with your doctor or weight loss specialist to develop a customized diet and exercise plan to help you lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way.

Avoid Alcohol and Sedatives

Alcohol and sedatives are respiratory depressants, meaning they can relax throat muscles, making airway collapse more likely during sleep. Limit intake of alcohol, especially before bedtime, and avoid unnecessary sedatives. Discuss your medication regimen with your doctor.

Exercise Regularly

Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, such as brisk walking or swimming. This helps tone and strengthen upper airway muscles to prevent collapse. Weight-bearing exercise can also aid in weight loss efforts.

Improve Sleep Hygiene

Adopting healthy sleep habits like sticking to a regular bedtime schedule, limiting screen time before bed, creating an optimal sleep environment, and following a calming pre-bed routine can all lead to higher quality sleep and reduced apnea events.

Quit Tobacco

Smoking and tobacco product usage is linked to worse sleep apnea. Quitting can quickly improve breathing and oxygen circulation. Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement products or prescription medications to support your cessation efforts.

Change Sleep Positions

Sleeping on your back allows gravity to cause your tongue and soft tissues to collapse into your airway. Shift to sleeping on your side, propped up with pillows. Some devices can help prevent rolling onto your back.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water during the day, as dehydration causes mucus membranes to become dry and swollen, narrowing breathing passages. Good hydration keeps airways lubricated.

Consider Oral Appliance Therapy

Custom-fit oral appliances worn at night can gently reposition the jaw, tongue, and soft palate to open up constricted airways. Consult with a sleep specialist about whether these could be an effective treatment option.

Use a Humidifier

Humidifying the air, especially at night, can help reduce nasal congestion, dryness, and inflammation that restrict airflow,providing symptom relief. Choose a cool mist model to avoid burns.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea I should watch for?

Common symptoms include loud snoring, gasping/choking during sleep, morning headaches, irritability, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Pay attention if a bed partner notices pauses in breathing. Bringing these symptoms to the attention of a sleep specialist can lead to getting properly diagnosed and treated.

What kind of doctor diagnoses and treats sleep apnea?

Sleep medicine specialists are experts at diagnosing and treating OSA. They conduct thorough sleep assessments including overnight sleep studies to monitor breathing, heart rate, and oxygen levels. Based on these comprehensive evaluations, they create customized treatment plans for each patient.

What do sleep studies involve?

An overnight sleep study uses specialized equipment to monitor heart rate, breathing, oxygen levels, brain activity, and snoring. This data helps diagnose sleep apnea, determine the severity, and decide on the most effective treatments. The non-invasive test gives valuable insight.

Can sleep apnea be cured completely?

While there is no permanent cure for sleep apnea, the various treatment options can effectively manage symptoms long-term and improve quality of life. Lifestyle changes like losing weight and avoiding alcohol also help reduce the severity.

Take Control of Your Nights Again

If daily fatigue and poor sleep have become the norm, take heart – there are positive lifestyle changes within your power to help manage sleep apnea and restore restful nights. With some adjustments to your daily habits around diet, exercise, sleep habits, and more, you can reduce symptoms and start waking up feeling refreshed. Regaining your energy, focus, and quality of life is possible.

Don’t put it off another night – call (408) 549-1602 right now to schedule a consultation. Our team of sleep health experts will partner with you to identify lifestyle improvements tailored to your unique needs and challenges. The first step is reaching out – with lifestyle remedies and proven therapies, peaceful slumber is within your reach. Serving new and returning patients from Santa Clara and surrounding areas such as San Jose, Los Altos and Alum Rock.