How to Treat Sleep Apnea Naturally

Three Methods:Making Lifestyle ChangesUsing SupplementsDiagnosing Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when breathing pauses or becomes shallow during sleep. These episodes can last a few seconds or a few minutes. When breathing starts again, it is often accompanied by a snore, snort, or the sound of choking. Sleep apnea is a serious respiratory problem, so see a doctor as soon as possible if you think that you might have it. There are several natural ways to treat sleep apnea including making lifestyle changes, using a device, and taking supplements.

Method 1
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Ask your doctor about sleep aid devices. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, the most common treatment is to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help regulate your breathing.[1] A CPAP machine may take some getting used to, but it will allow you to get a full night’s rest.
    • Ask your doctor about other devices as well. There are a number of appliances and devices other than the CPAP that may help keep your nose and throat open and help prevent sleep apnea. These include tapes that help open the nose or head straps that keep your jaw forward.
    • Make sure that you talk to your physician and dentist before you try any devices. They will be able to give you recommendations on the best devices available.
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    Get to a healthy weight. If you are overweight, then losing weight may significantly improve or even cure your sleep apnea.[2] To lose weight, you will need to burn more calories than you consume. Doing things like keeping a food diary to keep track of calories, eating more fruits and vegetables, and replacing high calorie beverages with water can all help.
    • Talk to your doctor for recommendations on a weight loss plan that will work for you.
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    Exercise most days of the week. Exercise can help you lose weight and also help to maintain cardiovascular health, but it can also help ease the symptoms of sleep apnea.[3] Start out easy and work your way up into more strenuous exercise.
    • Start by trying to get 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, at least five days a week. You can also join a gym, do aerobics, strength training, yoga, tai chi or chi gong. Find something that you will enjoy so that you will stick with it.
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    Change your sleep position. The way that you sleep can also aggravate sleep apnea. Avoid sleeping on your back because this can cause your throat muscles to tighten up and your tongue to drop back into your throat. This will increase the risk of sleep apnea.[4]
    • Try sleeping on your side with a pillow propped behind your back to keep you from rolling onto your back.
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    Quit smoking. Smoking can make sleep apnea worse, so it is important to quit smoking if you have sleep apnea.[5] If you are a smoker, ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs in your area. Many communities offer low or no cost help to quit smoking.
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    Skip alcohol and tranquilizers before bed. Alcohol and tranquilizers increase the risk of sleep apneas, so it is best to avoid these altogether if you have sleep apnea.[6] If you have trouble falling a sleep at night, try drinking a cup of warm milk or herbal tea instead.

Method 2
Using Supplements

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    Get more vitamin D. Vitamin D is often deficient in people with sleep apnea.[7] However, be aware that vitamin D in high doses can be toxic, so talk to your physician about how much you should take.
    • Vitamin D taken as 2-5000 IU each day is generally considered safe.
    • You can also get your daily dose of vitamin D by sitting outside in the sun for 10-15 minutes each day.
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    Increase your magnesium. Magnesium may also be helpful for sleep apnea. Magnesium is necessary for muscle contraction and is believed to help the muscles of the respiratory tract respond to brain signals.[8]
    • Taking 100-200mg of Magnesium before going to sleep is considered safe. Higher doses may lead to diarrhea.
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    Take vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It has been found to be beneficial in reducing the cell damage associated with sleep apnea.[9]
    • Try taking 500 mg of Vitamin C daily.
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    Consider taking 5HTP. 5HTP may also be helpful for sleep apnea. 5HTP is decreased in people with sleep apnea and it is a precursor for serotonin, a hormone that is involved with sleep and mood.[10]
    • Try taking 50 mg of 5HTP along with magnesium.

Method 3
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

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    See a doctor to get a diagnosis. If you think that you have sleep apnea, see a doctor as soon as possible. There is no blood test to detect sleep apnea. It is diagnosed based on symptoms of fatigue, waking up feeling unrefreshed, family history, and sleep study results. Diagnosis will also include a physical examination to see if there is a blockage in your mouth, throat or nose. Symptoms of all sleep apneas include:[11]
    • Snoring
    • Episodes where you stop breathing
    • Abrupt waking with shortness of breath
    • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
    • Difficulty staying asleep
    • Daytime sleepiness and waking up unrefreshed
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Mood changes and irritability
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    Request a sleep study. A sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram, may help determine if you have sleep apnea. A polysomnogram records brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, snoring, and chest movement.
    • A sleep study can be done in a sleep study center or at home. During the sleep study, painless sensors are attached to your head, chest, face, arms, legs, and fingers. Then, you will go to sleep and you will be monitored while you sleep.
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    Learn about the different types of sleep apnea. There are three types of sleep apnea (SA). The three types are:[12]
    • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a blockage of the breathing tubes during sleep. This is the most common form of sleep apnea.
    • Central sleep apnea (CSA). CSA is when the brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the muscles that control breathing.
    • Complex sleep apnea syndrome (CSAS). CSAS is a combination of OSA and CSA.
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    Consider the possible causes of your sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is due to a narrowing of the breathing tubes. This narrowing can be caused by:[13]
    • Being overweight
    • An over-relaxation of the throat and tongue
    • Swollen or over-large tonsils
    • A breathing tube that is narrower than normal
    • Aging


  • Untreated sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, difficulties doing your work, and mood and memory problems.[14]

Article Info

Categories: Sleep Disorders | Respiratory Health