A Natural Remedy for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing or instances of shallow breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea affects over 22 million adults in the United States. The condition causes loud snoring and daytime sleepiness, and it’s been linked to serious health complications including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Our Greensboro, NC, sleep dentist, Dr. Mark Katz, knows there are lifestyle changes and treatments that can help manage sleep apnea. One beneficial approach is to start or maintain an exercise routine. Regular physical activity can help strengthen muscles, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, and improve sleep — all of which can lessen the severity of sleep apnea symptoms.
How Exercise Helps With Sleep Apnea
There are several ways exercise counters some of the underlying causes of sleep apnea:
- Improves Muscle Tone: By regularly working out the muscles of the throat and neck, such as through targeted exercises or activities like singing or playing wind instruments, individuals can keep the airway firm and open. This prevents it from collapsing and obstructing breathing during sleep.
- Lowers Inflammation: Exercise has been shown to reduce markers of systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body can contribute to sleep apnea, so exercise may help mitigate this.
- Helps Achieve Healthy Weight: Obesity and excess weight are major risk factors for sleep apnea. Physical activity assists with weight loss and maintaining a healthy BMI, which reduces risk.
- Reduces Fatigue: Exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and improves sleep quality. This can help counter the daytime tiredness associated with interrupted nighttime breathing.
- Lowers Blood Pressure: Exercise helps control blood pressure, including hypertension linked to sleep apnea. Keeping blood pressure in check reduces associated health risks.
Best Types of Exercise for Sleep Apnea
Aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate elevated is recommended for sleep apnea, as it improves cardiovascular health. Options include walking, jogging, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, and stair climbing. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.
Resistance training is also beneficial, as building up muscle mass can help keep airways open at night. Weight lifting, squats, pushups, and other strength exercises that target major muscle groups are good choices.
Yoga promotes relaxation, flexibility, and muscle tone through poses focused on breathing and alignment. You can also do mouth and throat exercises to help maintain an open airway. Specific neck exercises like chin tucks can strengthen throat muscles. Practicing controlled breathing during exercise can also help train muscles to work optimally.
Getting Started with an Exercise Routine
It’s important to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise regimen, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Start slowly and build up the duration and intensity of your workouts over time.
Focus on finding forms of exercise you enjoy and can stick with long-term. Take posture and proper breathing into account as you exercise. Set reminders to stay consistent with your routine and aim for 30 to 45 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week.
Along with exercise, be sure to also follow any other sleep apnea treatments recommended by your doctor, such as the use of a CPAP machine or an oral appliance prescribed by a sleep dentist like Dr. Katz. Lifestyle measures like sleeping on your side and avoiding alcohol before bed should also be part of your sleep apnea management plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will exercise cure my sleep apnea?
However, by strengthening muscles, reducing inflammation, aiding weight loss, and promoting higher-quality sleep, exercise can be an excellent additive therapy to help mitigate the effects of sleep apnea when part of a comprehensive treatment plan. But exercise on its own should not be expected to completely reverse the underlying causes of this disorder.
What if I can't exercise due to health issues?
It’s always best to consult your physician to develop the right exercise routine based on your medical status and needs.
How soon will I see results if I start exercising?
Is any type of exercise bad for sleep apnea?
Take Control of Your Sleep Apnea
If you suffer from sleep apnea, incorporating exercise into your treatment plan could significantly improve your sleep and reduce daytime symptoms. But it’s important to consult your physician before starting any new exercise regimen, especially with a pre-existing health condition.
Call our Greensboro office at (336) 346-8988 today to schedule your consultation. You can also fill out our online contact form below, and a staff member will assist you. Dr. Katz treats patients in Greensboro and surrounding areas such as Winston-Salem, Whitsett, Summerfield, and Kernersville, NC.