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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Sleep Apnea

General Guidelines for Managing Sleep Apnea

Lose Weight

Obesity is a major risk factor for sleep apnea. If you’re overweight, talk to your doctor about a reasonable weight loss goal and a safe weight loss program. As little as a 10% weight loss can greatly reduce the number of sleep apnea episodes that occur each night.

Stop Using Alcohol and Sedative Medications

Both alcohol and sedative medications are nervous system depressants. This means that they affect the brain, causing it to function more slowly and less effectively. Using alcohol and/or sedatives will increase the frequency and number of sleep apnea episodes that occur each night. When you stop taking these products, your sleep apnea may improve.

Sleep on Your Side

Some people find that sleeping on one side, rather than sleeping on their backs or on their bellies, greatly reduces sleep apnea. You can use a variety of pillows to comfortably prop yourself on your side.

References:

American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: http://www.sleepapnea.org/resources/pubs/evaluated.html. Published May 2005. Accessed September 17, 2008.

Cecil R, Goldman L, Benett JC. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000.

Snoring. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/snoring.cfm. Accessed September 17, 2008.

NINDS sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sleep_apnea/sleep_apnea.htm. Updated June 2008. Accessed September 17, 2008.

What is sleep apnea? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/SleepApnea/SleepApnea_WhatIs.html. Updated February 2008. Accessed September 17, 2008.



Last reviewed August 2008 by Elie Edmond Rebeiz, MD, FACS

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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