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Are There Any Home Remedies for Sleep Apnea?

30 minutes of aerobic exercise may help improve breathing at night.
BiPAP breathing masks can be used to treat sleep apnea.
Avoiding drinking and smoking, especially right before bed, is best for someone with sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can be treated at home with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
Some people put tennis balls in the bed behind them so they won't want to sleep on their backs.
Obese middle aged men are the most likely to have problems breathing at night.
For those people who are overweight, losing weight may reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
Quitting smoking can help reduce sleep apnea issues.
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  • Originally Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Revised By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2014
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There are several home remedies for sleep apnea, most of which are basic lifestyle changes like avoiding drinking alcohol before bedtime and not smoking. Keeping a clean home to minimize allergies can help as well, as can weight loss and throat strengthening exercises. Many people also find that changing the position in which they sleep can make it easier to breathe. As sleep apnea is a dangerous medical condition that can be life threatening, it's a good idea to seek medical advice before trying any home remedies.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the throat closes up during sleep. It can be extremely dangerous, and can increase a person's risk of a heart attack. A tell-tale sign of this condition is heavy snoring followed by a stop in breathing, which is then followed by gasping for air. The breathing can stop for as little as ten seconds or as much as several minutes. Many people with this condition wake up several times each night. Overweight men of middle age or older are the most likely to have problems breathing at night, but others may also develop them.

Smoking and Alcohol

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Those with sleep apnea should avoid smoking in general, as it tends to create congestion in the upper air passages. The chemicals in cigarettes also irritate the respiratory system, causing it to produce more phlegm, which can make it harder to breathe. It's also important to avoid drinking alcohol before going to bed, since it slows down the nervous system and relaxes the muscles in the throat. This can lead to increased snoring and apnea.

Allergens

Allergies are also associated with sleep apnea, since they make it harder to breathe. Those with this condition should have any known allergies treated, and avoid potential allergens in the bedroom. Things like dust mites and pollen can be removed through washing bed linen weekly, using hypoallergenic pillows and mattress covers, and cleaning bedroom flooring and curtains thoroughly. Saline solution can be used to clear out the nasal passages and make breathing easier as well, but only sterile solution should be used to avoid the risk of parasitic infection.

Weight Loss and Exercise

Losing weight is one of the best home remedies for sleep apnea. Many people who have the condition are overweight and losing weight has been shown to help dramatically. This is because the fat around the mouth and neck of an obese person can limit breathing, particularly when he or she is lying down. Half an hour of aerobic exercise, such as a quick walk, can also help improve breathing at night. This has the effect of improving the efficiency of the breathing system and can aid in weight loss.

Throat Strengthening

Since sleep apnea is associated with a weakening and relaxing of the throat muscles, some people find that strengthening their neck and throat muscles can reduce their symptoms. This can be done by playing brass or woodwinds instruments, as well as doing exercises like the cat and cow or cobra postures in yoga. Practicing a chewing motion and pushing the forehead against the hands can also help.

Sleeping Positions

Sometimes breathing problems at night can be eased by sleeping on the side or face down. This is because gravity can cause a person's tongue to fall onto his airway if he sleeps on his back. Since it's hard not to revert back to an old sleeping position while asleep, many people put objects like tennis balls or rolled up socks in the back of their pajamas. This makes it uncomfortable to sleep on the back, and ensures that the person will roll back over to his side or front while sleeping.

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anon947191
Post 26

The butekyo technique is the only way to cure sleep apnea, or any respiratory disorder. CPAP machines will make you dependent for life and only lead to further problems and huge expenses.

anon352568
Post 25

The CPAP is the only non-invasive treatment for sleep apnea, There is a surgery, but obviously it is higher risk due to operating on the airway. Losing weight will help, however, every overweight person doesn't have sleep apnea and some very thin people definitely have it.

The CPAP machines are very quiet now and a full face mask is not always needed. They have "nasal pillow" masks that just fit the nostrils like an oxygen cannula. Many people ignore their sleep apnea until it rears its ugly head after surgery (anesthesia related problems) or until it puts so much stress on the heart, they have a heart attack.

anon350004
Post 24

My mother has sleep apnea and wakes up once nightly and then goes back to sleep. She stays sleepy all day. The doctor has told her that it's caused by the apnea but that there's nothing he can do about it and just tells her to keep using the cpap machine. Is this true? Does she have to live every day being so sleepy? Also, is she cursed to have to wake up every night like this? From what I've read about the condition, she's waking up because she has stopped breathing. She's 88 years old so I would think this is a very serious thing! I don't want to wake up some day soon to find that she stopped breathing and instead of getting up, she just passed on. Certainly there must be something the doctor can do about this.

anon334140
Post 23

I have listened to my husband every night for years and it just keeps getting worse. He stops breathing so much during the night and it does not matter how he is sleeping. He is not overweight and no health issues. One of the scariest things is to hear and feel is him stop breathing and he stops for almost a minute at a time. He hardly ever wakes from it, but I have not slept in three nights due to this and it is taking a toll on me.

I am hoping and praying I can talk him into going to see the doctor and finally getting this seen about since it has become so much worse. The tennis ball, sock, wedges and all that have not helped him. He does it sleeping on his stomach, sides, back and sitting up. This is so scary. I absolutely feel for anyone who suffers with this!

If you do or if a loved one does seek medical attention, please. Hope this helps someone.

anon317363
Post 22

You can also treat apnea sleep by using a saline nasal spray to help keep your nasal passages open.

anon316063
Post 21

I just found out I have moderate sleep apnea. The doctor said I stopped breathing 23 times an hour through the whole night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. I normally work nights as well, which doesn't help.

He is putting me on CPAP. Sorry peeps, but I just never post and there is a lot of whining going on. I'd rather be uncomfortable in a mask then shorten my life span due to sleep loss. I have someone to be responsible for and that's more important.

Take a look at your life and see what you have to lose and then decide what's more important to you: comfort or those you would leave behind.

anon265542
Post 20

For the guy who says he wakes up with hallucinations, you have sleep paralysis. I had this for a while, and it's due to physical and mental stress. You can almost always expect it after a hard day.

The best thing you can do to avoid it is to lie on your stomach when sleeping. Also it helps to think happy thoughts. I know that sounds dumb, but it really helps.

anon184944
Post 19

Lose weight. The vast majority of people that have apnea have it because of weight - not all - just the majority.

anon149384
Post 18

Seek professional advice. If they ask for you to wear a mask, then will you? Obviously you don't fall into the category of losing weight, smoking or drinking. There is one other thing you may try to do, and that is go to sleep early so your body isn't over exhausted.

anon142804
Post 17

This is dumb! I'm not overweight, I exercise regularly (as I'm a personal trainer) and I supposedly have sleep apnea with hallucinations because my body doesn't wake up from the normal adrenalin tactics. So I wake up by seeing life threatening things, then I'm freaked out for an hour or so before I can go back to sleep. I don't want to wear the mask, it freaks me out. What to do?

anon137011
Post 16

my husband's doctor just informed us that while he was in sleep study he stopped breathing 82 times in an hour. my heart skipped a beat and i started shaking -- not letting my husband see this.

He has big tonsils and high blood pressure, also. He has to use the cpap machine which he has doubts about using it when he gets it. Hi mother had cancer and was on the cpap machine. We have five grown kids and two grandchildren and been together 23 years and I'm not ready to be a young widow. He's only 44 years old and I'm 41, still young, and I'm willing to help out my husband to get over this cpap and sleep apnea.

i just lost my dad at 35 years old and i cannot lose my husband.

anon130019
Post 15

My husband would hold his breath or stop breathing many times each night. He has moderate apnea. His doctor advised weight loss and not drinking any alcohol after 7 p.m. He lost twenty pounds and I noticed a big difference.

He needs to lose more - another 15 lbs or so. His doctor said the no. 1 thing a person can do to improve sleep apnea is weight loss - aim for as close to your young adult weight as possible. For men - aim for a neck size well under 17''. When we were first married, my hubby's shirt size was 15 1/2'', now it is 17 1/2''. It sneaks up on us.

This is a scary thing and my hubby does not want to have to wear a face mask to sleep - so he is trying very hard to lose the weight. Hope these suggestions help someone else.

anon109250
Post 13

I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. I am not overweight and do not drink alcohol during the week. Not all sleep apnea is based on your sleeping position; I found that out when I had the test done. So if you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, socks and tennis balls aren't going to do anything. Your breathing will still stop if your throat muscles are relaxing and blocking your airway no matter what position you're lying in.

I was given the option for a mouth device to move the jaw forward instead of the CPAP machine but it's not covered under my medical plan. The CPAP machine does take some getting used to but is not heavy or uncomfortable. I have the kind with just a nose piece, and no mask, and it also stopped my night sweats which I blamed on menopause. I assume they stopped because my heart is not speeding up due to the breath holding.

anon87098
Post 12

It's nice to see that others suffer from the same thing I suffer from. It sucks finding out that there is little that can be done to help me. I have woken up 10-15 times per night for the past three years.

anon86813
Post 11

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea two months back.I started with waking up once a night then gradually it increased to five times each night.

I am told by a leading homeopath doctor that there is a treatment for sleep apnea only in homeopathy.

Before starting the treatment, I was advised by a friend to do Pranayam (Kapaal Bhati) which I started doing just for five minutes daily, morning and evening. Just after four or five days of starting it, my husband observed that my sleeping and breathing during sleep got remarkably better and I can now sleep much better but I am still using sleep easy nasal strips on my nose at night, which also helps me to breathe better while asleep.

I would highly recommend this breathing yogic pranayama and learn he technique. It is basically throwing your breath out powerfully and at that time your stomach should go in. It is easy, very easy once you get hang of it.

Highly recommended for sleep apnea from my own experience. Good luck.

anon72922
Post 10

i have sleep apnea and i have to say, it stinks. I always sleep on my stomach with my face on its side. Even though I'm completely comfortable i still wake during the night. The usual time i wake the first time is around three o'clock then it goes on throughout the night. Could my sleep apnea be caused from sleeping on my stomach?

anon66837
Post 9

chimolian Tea helps in sleep apnea... it relaxes ur mind & gives good sleep.

anon43895
Post 8

Try sleeping in a reclining chair. Sometimes the throat will remain more open when the head is raised. Also try raising the head of a bed by putting blocks under the headboard. When a person is gasping for breath in the night, the abdomen squeezes to start breathing again. This action causes acid reflux or that burning feeling in the esophagus. Raising the head during sleep can help acid reflux.

anon38254
Post 7

I have sleep apnea and have had it for many years. i can say from experience sleeping on one's side does not help up until my recent hydrocelle. i regularly slept on my side. nor did having my tonsils out help either, as that is how they discovered i had sleep apnea while recovering from tonsil surgery. i stopped breathing while in the recovery room much to the doctor's surprise and dismay. I also had my nose broken and reset and that did not help either. while I can't say none of these things will work i can say from my experience they didn't work for me nor anyone i know of who has sleep apnea.

anon16979
Post 6

My boyfriend actually just rolled his truck over yesterday because he fell asleep at the wheel. He also cannot sleep at night because of this. He could have died in that accident and we don't make enough for insurance to go see a professional. Thanks for reading. I will have him try the tennis ball or sock remedy!

anon14166
Post 5

Re: anon 4214; You can also just put wiffle or tennis balls in a pocket T-shirt and wear that backward, too. Relatively inexpensive.

Re: anon 4459 - Your really shouldn't eat or drink much of anything 3 to 4 hrs before retiring. I realize that is in an "Ideal world". If you had dinner at 6 and didn't retire until 10; then the effects of one beer should be gone. More than two drinks consumed more than abt 4 hrs before retiring would still be in your system, however.

Re: anon 4460 - The mask (or nasal device) is over 90% of the 'compliance factor' = whether or not the person actually USES the device. There are many new styles and choices that he can try out at his equipment provider's location that can help him deal with this; most have no straps or parts of the device in his line of vision. Also taking a little time to get used to the device & the pressure before retiring; such as 10 mins. sitting up in an easy chair or by the side of the bed with it on, can really help. It can take weeks to even months to be fully comfortable for some persons. Tell him to remember; "Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury !" (And he's got a really patient and loving Gf, too.)

Re: debrad0911 - Losing weight and stopping smoking are the only truly "natural" remedies. There are a few surgical options but they have very little long term effect; usually taking 8 or more weeks to recover from and ultimately re-occurring within 1 to 5 yrs. post op. Again though; refer to the above advice Re: masks and compliance & see if this will help. For some persons, a rarity however; a dental device can help pull the jaw forward and the tongue too; consult a dentist to see if this is an option.

debrad0911
Post 4

My partner has sleep Apnea he currently uses a CPAP Machine. Are there currently any other treatments available other than the CPAP Machine? Any advice would be much appreciated. Are there currently any natural treatments available?

anon4460
Post 3

My boyfriend has sleep apnea, but he can't wear that mask thing that they prescribed because he gets claustrophobic. What can he do? Try to sleep on his side, I guess, but is there anything else? He's so tired all the time and I feel bad for him. Would having his tonsils out help?

anon4459
Post 2

how far before bedtime can you drink alcohol? Is it Ok to have a beer with dinner or will that cause sleep apnea? Are they just talking about a nightcap right before bed?

anon4214
Post 1

The question asked for home remedies. One is to keep yourself from sleeping on your back by putting 1 or 2 tennis balls in a sock and pinning that to the back of a shirt that you wear during sleep. Personally, I just fold up 2 other socks and put them into the other sock and it works great! Welcome to old age, I guess ...

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