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Beyond the CPAP Machine: Lifestyle Changes for Managing Sleep Apnea

Using a CPAP machine is typically the go-to treatment method for obstructive sleep apnea. However, it’s important to recognize the benefit of certain lifestyle changes as well. Mild cases of sleep apnea can sometimes be treated with lifestyle changes alone. As for moderate to severe sleep apnea, changes in daily habits and activities can reduce the severity of the condition and improve the effectiveness of using a CPAP machine.If you’re interested in managing sleep apnea with lifestyle changes, here are some guidelines to follow:

Tip #1 for Managing Sleep Apnea: Maintain a healthy weight

Apple with a tape measure around in sitting on a scale.

Obesity is the strongest risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea. Obese adults are seven times more likely than normal-weight adults to develop this condition. Carrying excess weight around the neck and jaw contributes to the obstruction of the airway by applying pressure to the area. Losing weight can help alleviate some of that pressure.

Tip #2 for Managing Sleep Apnea: Avoid alcohol and sedatives

Sedatives and alcohol crossed out

Individuals dealing with sleep apnea may turn to sleeping pills to alleviate insomnia or restlessness, but this can do more harm than good. Alcohol and sedatives affect the central nervous system, causing the throat muscles to relax and worsening sleep apnea. Get into the habit of falling asleep without sedatives and try to avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

Tip #3 for Managing Sleep Apnea: Quit smoking

[caption id="attachment_102148" align="alignnone" width="374"]Gif of Neil Patrick Harris saying "Stop it".



According to one study, smokers are 2.5 times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than non-smokers. Smoking causes inflammation of the airway, making it more difficult to breathe. Quitting may be challenging, but it can make dealing with sleep apnea a lot easier.It’s important to keep in mind that these are only guidelines, and all methods for managing sleep apnea should be discussed with your doctor. Ultimately, using a CPAP machine may still be the best treatment for you, but in many cases these lifestyle changes can help.Have you found success managing sleep apnea with one or more of these lifestyle changes? If so, please share your experience in the comments below!