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What Causes Sleep Apnoea and How To Prevent It
Sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder where your breathing starts and stops during the night. Signs that you have sleep apnoea are loud snoring, daytime sleepiness and restless sleep. Sleep apnoea is diagnosed with a sleep study after which you can decide on the best sleep apnoea treatment for you.
But can you prevent sleep apnoea in the first place? We look at the main causes of sleep apnoea, what you can do to minimise your risk of developing it and strategies to reduce the effect of sleep apnea on your life.
Sleep Apnoea Causes
Sleep apnoea is caused by a blockage of airflow which may result in pauses in breathing, loud snoring and restlessness. Most people don’t know they have sleep apnoea and stop breathing hundreds of times each night. This is concerning as sleep apnoea is very harmful to your health. It’s usually a partner, friend or family member who notices sleep apnoea episodes.
The good news is that if you have mild sleep apnoea, you can start getting it under control today.
The most common causes of sleep apnoea are:
- Obesity and recent weight gain
- Chronic sinusitis or other nasal passage blockages
- Large tonsils or adenoids
- Large neck circumference
- Alcohol, smoking, or other sedatives
- Sleeping position
- Family history
Some of these causes can be difficult to control such as family history, menopause and blockages of your airways. There are a few things you can do to either cure your sleep apnoea if you have a mild case, prevent it from occurring and minimise the impact on your health and wellbeing. If your sleep apnoea is moderate to severe it’s important that you begin treatment immediately. The consequences of sleep apnoea can be deadly.
Sleep Apnoea Prevention
If you’re like most people your sleep apnoea may be caused by obesity or recent weight gain. Weight is the most common cause of sleep apnea. But we all know losing weight is easier said than done especially if you are already exhausted due to a lack of sleep. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you are having trouble losing weight consider treatment for your sleep apnoea. Patients who are undergoing sleep apnoea treatment report more energy and motivation, which is just what you need to kick-start your weight loss goals.
Sleep apnoea occurs more frequently if you sleep on your back. Try sleeping on your side instead. If you wake up only to find that you have moved onto your back during the night try wedging pillows along your back. You can purchase devices that prevent you from sleeping on your back or a quick trick is to sew a tennis ball into a pocket on the back of your pyjama top. That will definitely make sleeping on your back uncomfortable.
Alcohol, Sleeping Pills and Sedatives
Who doesn’t love to have a nightcap? While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it actually causes more sleeping problems than you might think. Sure you fall asleep faster, but alcohol makes your tongue muscles relax more which can obstruct your breathing.
Most people report increased snoring following a few drinks before bed. The same applies to sleeping pills and sedatives which also relax your muscles and throat interfering with your breathing.
Ok, it’s time to seriously consider quitting. Smoking increases fluid retention and inflammation of your upper airway and your throat. This can lead to snoring and sleep apnoea. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about options for quitting smoking.
If you have a blocked nose you are more likely to breathe through your mouth while sleeping.
This can result in snoring and sleep apnoea.
Your blocked nose may be caused by allergies, sinus or a deviated septum.
A simple nasal spray may help unblock your nose if it’s allergy related but if you find it’s an ongoing problem talk to your doctor about other options.
Exercise Your Body and Mouth
Regular exercise can have a huge impact on your sleep health. And we’re not just talking about exercising your body but also exercises that improve the muscles in your tongue, throat and soft palate. Yoga is great for strengthening muscles in these areas and also for improving breathing. Singing can help strengthen muscles in your mouth and throat. Even chewing gum before bed until your jaw aches can help improve the muscles that keep your mouth closed.
While in many cases sleep apnoea can be difficult to prevent, it is easy to treat. Not only that but your health and wellbeing will dramatically improve through proper treatment. If you or your partner are suffering from sleep apnoea take our obligation-free sleep self-assessment questionnaire today.