Sleep apnea is nothing to sneeze at--it's a serious condition that affects nearly 18 million Americans each and every year. While most patients use CPAP machines, others are able to get by with simple lifestyle modifications. If you've been diagnosed with this condition recently, you should know that there are many ways to help ensure that you get a good sleep each night. Read on to learn more about the simple, yet important ways that you can stay well-rested.
Stay Away From Alcohol
When you're exhausted but stressed out, it can be tempting to pour yourself a really delicious glass of wine to help wind you down before sleep. Research has shown that this is a poor way to do so. In patients with apnea, alcohol can actually aggravate the condition.
While it may seem as if you are falling asleep more quickly, the rest you are getting isn't likely to be of a very good quality. Instead, skip the glass of wine and opt for a caffeine-free herbal tea.
Chamomile and Valerian can both be helpful when trying to sleep--but each can interact with sleep medication. If you're currently taking a prescription, ask your doctor before you drink these teas.
If you've found yourself turning to alcohol every single night to fall asleep, you should know that repeated alcohol use has been shown to worsen sleep apnea. Speak with your physician if you need assistance with stopping alcohol.
Make Your Bedroom Off-Limits For Activity
If you're the type of person whose bedroom is your sanctuary, you may be doing yourself a disservice.
Your bedroom should be dedicated to one of two things at all times--either sleep or sex. If you're spending all evening or day in your bedroom on the computer, watching television, or even just being awake, you should reconsider your location choice. This can sometimes teach the body that your bedroom is where you go when you need to be active and awake, resulting in an inability to fall asleep once sleep is desired.
Instead, create a bedroom that is sleep-positive. Start by moving your daily activities to another room. Then, take a look at your bedroom and see where you can make improvements:
- Choose a supportive, comfortable mattress that offers the right level of cushioning for your specific needs
- Use pillows that support both your neck and your head at the same time
- If you were instructed to use a CPAP machine, have it sitting on a night table beside the bed
- Use blackout drapes to block outside light and noise
- Close your bedroom door when you go to bed for the night
- Keep nightlights and reading lights within easy reach
Also take care to monitor your activities at night. Reading for 15 minutes is just fine, but if you find yourself spending hours tossing and turning, you aren't doing yourself any favors.
Get Up If You Can't Sleep
If you really and truly are lying in bed awake for more than an hour, give in to the urge. Get up and busy yourself with a boring, repetitive task for 15 minutes. Try doing something that needs to be done, but isn't particularly fun--housework is ideal for this. Alternately, make yourself the aforementioned cup of tea and sit in the living room with it silently.
You can also try a bit of meditation or gentle yoga stretches. Avoid anything strenuous, exciting, or intellectually stimulating, as this can trigger a second wind, and you may find yourself even more awake.
Use Your CPAP Machine Nightly--With No Exceptions
For nearly all patients who are prescribed a CPAP machine, using the device each and every night regardless of where you sleep isn't optional. You should think of your device in the same way as you would think of life-saving medication. It is vital to your health that you use your machine to whatever specifications your physician recommended when you were prescribed it.
Some CPAP patients balk at using their devices nightly; this can occur for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the specifics, new CPAP patients often go through an acclimatization period where they gradually learn to sleep with the machine.
You may have a variety of concerns at first:
- You may find it uncomfortable
- You may find it loud
- You may feel encumbered at first when wearing it
- A husband or wife may complain about the noise it makes
Thankfully, there are many ways to overcome these hurdles. You can speak with your pharmacist to verify that you have the right mask shape. Or, you can investigate purchasing a newer, quieter model. You can also try wearing it for a few minutes at a time throughout the day or whenever you lie down for a nap.
If the issue is with your husband or wife, ear plugs are an excellent solution temporarily. Much like when you move from the country to the city, he or she will adapt to the white noise put out by the device over time.
As a newly diagnosed sleep apnea patient, you have plenty of hope for a better sleep, a better life and better days ahead of you. Be kind to yourself and be patient--although you may find it difficult at first, CPAP machines are deeply researched and have been certified to help with your condition. If you can stick with it, you'll feel brighter and better throughout the day in no time at all. For questions about your device or any other issue related to sleep apnea, contact a specialist like Corner Medical today.