By Brandon Travis
Sleep disorders affect a large percentage of Americans, up to 40 percent as some studies have suggested, debilitating one of our most precious resources: sleep. We need sleep to perform even our most elemental tasks not to mention the more difficult ones like cognition, concentration, athletics or even operating a car. Getting a good night’s sleep is tantamount to being able to perform well in life and sleep disorders like snoring or sleep apnea make getting a good night’s sleep a constant struggle. However, there are plenty of tools you can use to combat snoring and sleep apnea and the rest you deserve.
While there are a plethora of known and unknown sleep disorders out there, ranging from night terrors, to narcolepsy, to work-shift sleep disorders, to restless leg syndrome, insomnia, snoring and sleep apnea are three of the most common. But in order to look at ways to fight these common sleep disorders, we first have to understand what causes them in the first place.
Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder, so common in fact that there really isn’t one specific reason for it; the causes depend upon the person and can range from anxiety, depression and other mood disorders, to lifestyle problems like diet and lack of exercise to stress to allergens. And though there are many prescription drugs available that can help you get to sleep, most of these medications leave you feeling groggy and unrested. However, simple lifestyle changes can sometimes be enough to pull you out of your insomniac funk and get some sleep: exercising regularly, amending your diet to include more natural foods, eating a bed-time snack of dairy and carbs, meditating, getting into a sleep schedule—all of these can bring about solutions to insomnia.
Snoring and sleep apnea are often comorbid and have some of the same underlying causes and treatments. Snoring is the result of occluded breathing passages in the nose or throat; sleep apnea is when breathing is abruptly halted during sleep, resulting in gasps and oxygen depletion, and if untreated can have dire consequences. Both have their own different kinds and causes. The occlusion in snoring is often caused by blockage of the throat, either through fatty tissue, allergies, posture or a general degradation of the throat muscles; it’s most commonly found in adults over 40, the obese or overweight, chronic users of alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs/medication and more often in men than women. Sleep apnea has a couple different kinds: the first, obstructive sleep apnea is a result of the same blocked airways seen in snoring, and snoring is usually precipitant; the second kind is called central sleep apnea and has to do with failures of the central nervous system; the third is a combination of the first two and is called, appropriately, complex sleep apnea.
Thankfully, snoring and sleep apnea can be treated in many of the same methods. Losing weight and getting your body back to its recommended weight is one of the best ways to fight these sleep disorders, as is eliminating or minimizing alcohol and cigarette use—especially in the last couple hours before bed. You can also help to control these sleep disorders by adjusting your sleeping position, sleeping on your side or stomach instead of your back. If allergens are the reason, making your bedroom into a hypoallergenic chamber might be the way to go; which might mean that your dog or cat has to sleep elsewhere at night. Certain vocal exercises have also been found to alleviate some of the symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea as they build up the muscles in the throat. For more info on vocal exercises check out http://www.thestopsnoringexerciseprogram.org/. Changing your diet and getting into a regular sleep schedule can also be a big step in fighting these unpleasant sleep disorders.
Sleeping is a crucial part of our lives, and making sure we get the sleep we need sometimes seems like an uphill battle. By using these techniques, you should be able to turn the tide of the nighttime war and start your sleep disorders on a, hopefully permanent, retreat.
– Brandon Travis likes to spend his free time swimming and training for his next triathlon in the spring. He works in the health and wellness sector, helping people live better and healthier lives. When he’s not working out he likes to review sites like iRollover snoring device.