Sleep apnea occurs when muscles at the back of the throat narrow or close during breathing. This happens as a result of excessive relaxation. Apnea lowers blood oxygen levels by preventing you from getting enough air. As a result, you choke, gasp, and snort. And, your brain rouses you from sleep after sensing an inability to breathe. This cycle repeats several times at night, depriving you of restful sleep.
Although it sounds scary, there are solutions. Below, we discuss five successful treatments that can help with sleep apnea.
1. Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Devices
PAP devices are a type of ventilator providing patients with continuous pressurized air. The device prevents the airway from collapsing and obstructing breathing.
They pump air into the airwaves using various breathing masks. Usually, a patient wears a mask over the nose and sometimes the mouth. People who consistently use PAP machines to control apnea report reduced complications.
2. Oral Appliances
Many sleep apnea sufferers use oral appliances as the first line of treatment. Wearing an appliance in the mouth is similar to a mouth guard when sleeping. An appliance controls apnea by securing the lower jaw forward. Keeping the lower jaw forward allows the airway to stay open. They also prevent the collapse of the tongue and upper airway muscles.
A better night’s rest happens by preventing the collapse of airway muscles and securing the jaw.
3. Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana promotes better sleep.
So, how does medical marijuana assist with rest?
The reason why is that it has cannabinoid compounds. And these compounds bind to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors.
The levels of sleep-promoting adenosine increase when Cannabinoids bind these receptors. They also suppress the arousal system of the brain. The effects make a marijuana user feel sleepy and less anxious. This is a good thing as it relaxes you before bedtime.
The best marijuana for sleepy effect is the one with a high level of THC. CBD compounds can also trigger sleepiness but at higher levels. Low levels induce alertness that suppresses sleep.
Furthermore, an indica strain of marijuana is more calming than sativa.
And indica strain can help with the following:
- Pain management
There have been human trials on the effects of medical marijuana on sleep apnea. Many show a reduction in apnea markers after taking doses of THC. The outcome of this and other subsequent studies is promising. Researchers believe that cannabinoid-based medications help. Patients with mild or moderate sleep apnea may benefit from using marijuana.
The causes of sleep apnea are not just physical but also mental. Marijuana has THC that targets the brain. It results in a relaxed mind, which also causes muscle relaxation.
Using marijuana has a positive outcome in users by expanding the tone of the airway muscle. In studies, shallow breath and apnea episodes were significantly reduced. But, studies reveal that users must use marijuana for at least six weeks to be effective. So, keep this in mind should you use marijuana to treat sleep apnea.
4. Upper Airway Stimulation
Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) is a procedure that can help with sleep apnea. It involves putting a small electric device below the skin of the chest above the ribs. The device has an electrode connected to nerves that control tongue muscles. A low electrical charge stimulates the tongue to move. As a result, it clears the airway while sleeping.
It’s best to consult a physician to see if this treatment is recommended. Everyone has various health conditions. So, it’s vital to consider everything before proceeding.
Surgery for sleep apnea usually is the last option. People resort to surgery because multiple sites are causing an obstruction. So, relief only comes when a surgeon makes an accurate identification. A patient may need several operations to clear the block.
Below are the common types of sleep apnea surgeries.
- Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction (RFVTR): A surgeon shrinks and tightens nasal and throat tissues. They do this by using controlled cauterization.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): This procedure widens the airway. It helps by trimming, repositioning, or removing the soft tissues surrounding the palate.
- Genioglossus Advancement: This surgery involves moving a significant tongue attachment forward through a cut in the lower jaw
- Hyoid Suspension: This procedure pulls the hyoid bone forward. It secures it to prevent soft tissues in the throat from blocking it.
- Maxillomandibular osteotomy and Maxillomandibular osteotomy advancement: MMO and MMA improve breathing by moving the upper or lower jaw.
There are many forms of treatment available for sleep apnea. Besides the treatments discussed, keep in mind that staying healthy is also essential.
Lifestyle changes play a significant role in controlling sleep apnea. People with apnea should work out frequently. Losing weight reduces anxiety and decreases sleep apnea issues. It is also essential to avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine before bed. Sleeping on the side instead of the back helps control breathing difficulties.
By applying various methods, it’s possible to find ways to manage sleep apnea and get a better night’s rest.