Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” in refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. Although not entirely hereditary, those who have relatives with sleep apnea are more likely to have it. In adults, however, the most common cause of this disease is being overweight or obese.
There are three main types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form, which occurs when the throat’s muscles relax during sleep and cause the tongue to fall back into the airways of the throat, blocking airflow. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Finally, complex sleep apnea occurs when someone has both central and obstructive sleep apnea.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
In many cases, a person’s body weight is directly linked to having obstructive apnea. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have sleep apnea than those who maintain a healthy weight, since sleep apnea can often be caused by excess fatty tissues that become built up in the neck and throat. Frequent alcohol consumption may also be a cause, due to the fact that alcohol relaxes the muscles in the body, including those in the throat. Other causes of sleep apnea may include:
- Enlarged tonsils
- Genetic predisposition
- Physical obstructions (thickened tissues or excessive fat stores)
- Supine sleeping (sleeping flat on your back)
- Chronic Sinusitis
Frequent exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight is essential as a remedy for those with sleep apnea. Exercising helps you lose weight and excess fatty tissues that may obstruct the throat, as well as having a natural impact on the quality of sleep.
Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D levels have been found to be lower in patients with sleep apnea. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to many symptoms, including mood disturbances and muscle pain. That is why maintaining a steady level of this vitamin in the body is essential. While the easiest way to obtain vitamin D is by lounging in the sunlight, you can also eat a variety of mushrooms (Portobello, maitake, shiitake, and button varieties) to get your vitamin D fix.
Eat Foods That Contain Melatonin
Consuming foods that are rich in melatonin, the body’s natural sleep enhancer, can help promote a more continuous and stabilized sleep. While many people go for melatonin in pill form, try to opt for plant-based foods instead. Not only does the body absorb it more quickly, but it can also use it more efficiently. Some natural sources of melatonin include steel cut oats, bananas, ginger, barley, tomatoes, and radishes.
Fill Up On Antioxidants
Natural remedies for sleep apnea should also focus on increasing antioxidant capacity through diet. Sleep apnea is associated with oxidative stress, also known as the excessive build-up of free radicals. It is also associated with decreased antioxidant capacity, and decreased blood levels of various antioxidants, such as vitamin E and carotenoids. Make sure to eat the rainbow (i.e. fruits and vegetables of all colors) to get the most antioxidants possible.