Interrupted sleep can be an annoyance, especially when it happens quite regularly. For the more than 30% of the population that deals with bouts of insomnia, it can certainly seem endless, in which sleep seems out of reach, but in the case of sleep apnea, in which a person’s breathing repeatedly starts and stops during sleep, it can prove to be just as troublesome, as well as equally concerning. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the intermittent blockage/restriction of air flow in a person, caused primarily by a closing of the throat. For the 1 in 5 adults that have mild forms of OSA, or the 1 in 15 that have moderate to severe OSA, they know the effects that come from dealing with OSA, whether that be heavy snoring, tiredness during the day, exasperated breath upon waking, as well as cases of teeth grinding (or its link with TMJ).
For the approximately 1 in 15 Americans that deal with moderate to severe OSA, they might suffer nearly 60 apneas per hour during a night of sleep (making for an average of 400 apneas per night). To lower the risk of sleep apnea, further curbing the negative effects that it has on the body and sleep, it is best to seek forms of sleep therapy. Where a majority people know of the various apnea and snoring treatments that come from CPAP treatment, you might be wondering about alternative treatment for sleep apnea. Here are a few that can be explored:
- Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD): By advancing the lower jaw, these mouthguard-esque devices work to slightly reposition the tongue, pushing it forward, such that the airway is properly opened during the night.
- Tongue Retaining Mouthpiece (TRM):Similar to a MAD, the TRM works to push the tongue forward so to properly open the airway; however, whereas the MAD sits inside the mouth like a mouthguard, the TRM rests outside of the mouth, otherwise not requiring the jaw to be pushed forward.
- Weight Loss:A common cause of OSA comes from a person being overweight. When extra weight it put on, it sits in layers of fat cells referred to as “pads,” of which will layer themselves around the neck. When these pads begin to collect,
especially below the chin, it makes it further difficult for the airway to properly open,
especially while laying on your back during the night. Losing a bit of weight, even as little as ten pounds, can reduce the size of these pads around the neck, aiding in the opening in your upper airway, and thus working as an effective alternative treatment for sleep apnea.
- Positioning During Sleep:It has been shown that sleeping on your back can further the effects of mild OSA. By sleeping on the right or left side of your body, you can effectively implement an alternative treatment for sleep apnea (mild cases) at home, since refraining from sleeping on your back will reduce the likeliness of the upper airway collapsing during sleep.
- Medical Procedures:Regarding alternative treatment for sleep apnea besides CPAP machines, there is the option of undergoing a medical procedure. There are a variety of options that might be explored, from nasal surgery, to Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) surgery, to Pillar Procedure, all the way to Somnoplasty. These are undergone only for cases of severe sleep apnea, and they are advised only under the care of a physician and surgeon.
If you think that a CPAP machine might not be for you, there are other forms of alternative treatment for sleep apnea that you can explore. For the best results, either do your research or seek out a medical professional, discussing with them just how severe your sleep apnea might be, and what courses of action will provide you with best overall treatment.