Alternative and Complementary Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Many of the complementary therapies mentioned in Alternative and Integral Therapies for Insomnia are also useful as complementary therapies for sleep apnea.
Exercise and Weight Loss
Many of those who suffer from sleep apnea are either overweight or obese. Hence, weight loss and exercise are an effective form of treatment for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is generally, though not always, thought to occur because of structural problems. This means that the breathing airways become obstructed while a person is sleeping. When you lose weight some of these passages get opened back again so that you can breathe better. Even a small weight loss may make a big difference if the person is severely obese.
In treating sleep apnea, lachesis and homeopathic opium are useful, depending on the personality type.
Lachesis is recommended for extroverted, charismatic, angry individuals.
Homeopathic opium is prescribed for more temperate people with a history of emotional or physical pain.
Homeopathic practitioners believe that sleep apnea relates to loss of energy. Therefore, diet must be carefully chosen, eliminating sugar and other allergic foods.
Flower Remedy/Essence Therapy
The flower remedy Vervain is sometimes used to treat people suffering from OSAS. Vervain is a very calming essence that is indicated for people with strong feelings about everything. This personality type seems to be associated with sleep apnea, and when these people use Vervain, it seems to help them solve problems in all areas of their lives, including sleeping problems.
Researchers have determined that decreased serotonin levels can lead to sleep apnea. The nerves that control breathing require an adequate supply of serotonin. Also, serotonin receptors control the release of hormones such as cortisol. One role of cortisol is to help control the muscles needed for breathing. It was further suggested that the disturbed breathing in sleep apnea is a result of a malfunction in the serotonin system. Scientists have concluded that, the use of serotonin precursors such as 5-HTP may be of value for people suffering from sleep apnea.
Dr. Murray, author of "5_HTP - The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia" reported good results in treating several patients with sleep apnea using 5-HTP as part of their overall medical care. He recommends taking 100 to 300 mg of 5-HTP at bedtime. 5-HTP helps the victims of sleep apnea sleep more soundly. They have fewer nighttime awakenings. This helps them to be more alert and productive during the day.
See Also: Melatonin and 5-HTP
Don't Sleep on Your Back
Sleeping on one's back may allow the tongue to fall back into the airway and cause an obstruction, leading to sleep apnea. To avoid this position cut a tennis ball in half and sew each part onto the inside seam of a pajama top-one near the neck and one about mid- back level. This should stop you from rolling over onto your back at night, by making the supine position uncomfortable.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Alcohol and sleeping pills slow down the respiratory drive needed during sleep and cause further relaxation of the throat muscles, which makes obstructive sleep apnea more possible. Sleep laboratory tests reveal that eliminating alcohol dramatically reduces the number of sleep apnea episodes, increases the oxygen saturation levels of the blood, and leads to deeper, more restful sleep.
Several breathing techniques exist in yoga that can be used to forcibly clean out air passages. Learning and practicing them may give you temporary relief from obstructive sleep apnea. You can learn more about them in holisticonline.com infocenter on Pranayama, the yoga science of breathing.
Many people panic when they wake up unable to breathe and try to inhale vigorously. This only worsens the problem and the fear. If this happens, forcefully breathe out, then breathe in again slowly.
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