Behavioral Therapy for Sleep Apnea
By J. Brent Gorrell on January 30, 2018
Millions of Americans are affected by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes individuals to stop breathing for short periods of time throughout the night. This condition can have a serious impact on a person’s overall health and quality of life. Sadly, many cases of sleep apnea go untreated, either because the condition is never diagnosed or because the patient is unaware of their treatment options. Dr. J. Brent Gorrell has helped hundreds of patients combat sleep apnea to regain healthier sleeping patterns. Dr. Gorrell’s offers several treatments including behavioral therapy. Here we take a closer look at behavioral therapy for sleep apnea, and how our Mountain View, CA, patients can use these practices to avoid the long-term risks of sleep apnea.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Sleep apnea interferes with a person’s sleep and leaves them feeling worn down and unrested the next day. Although sleep apnea is often linked to other health issues, there are many things that patients can do to alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of their sleep, just through some basic behavioral therapy. The following practices can prove helpful in minimizing the most common symptoms of sleep apnea so that patients can get a more restful night of sleep:
- Reduce alcohol consumption: One easy step that individuals can take to encourage healthy sleeping patterns is reducing alcohol consumption. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat, which can increase snoring. Relaxed throat muscles also make it easier for the airways to collapse, which can lead to shallow breathing, or brief periods where breathing stops altogether. By minimizing the amount of alcohol consumed each night, many patients notice a marked improvement in sleep apnea symptoms.
- Quit smoking: There are numerous health conditions linked to smoking, including obstructive sleep apnea. Smoking causes inflammation of the upper airway, including the nose and throat, which creates a narrower opening. It is common for the respiratory muscles to relax by some degree while a patient sleeps. In most people, this is not a problem. But if the airway has already been reduced by inflammation caused by smoking, then when the muscles relax it can block the airway and result in sleep apnea. By giving up smoking, patients can reduce inflammation, alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea, and improve their overall health.
- Adopt a healthier diet: Weight is often a factor for patients with sleep apnea. An excess of fatty tissues can obstruct airways and make it easier for the airways to become completely blocked while the patient sleeps. By adopting a healthy, well-balanced diet, patients can encourage weight loss. Weight loss is likely to significantly decrease symptoms of sleep apnea, especially for those patients who are severely overweight.
- Try different sleeping positions: For many people, reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea may be as simple as sleeping in a different position. Patients who sleep on their back may want to try lying on their side. Sleeping at a slight incline is also recommended. This position helps keep the airways open so the patient can breathe easily while they sleep.
For many patients, behavioral therapy improves the symptoms of sleep apnea. However, for maximum results, it is often a good idea to combine behavioral therapy with other forms of treatment, such as dental therapy. Dr. Gorrell is happy to discuss how dental appliances can improve breathing and treat sleep apnea. He will customize a treatment plan that best meets the unique needs of each of his patients.
If you suspect that you are suffering from sleep apnea, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. By making some simple changes, most people can alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea and avoid the long-term risks of this condition. To learn more about sleep apnea treatment with Dr. J. Brent Gorrell, contact us at your earliest convenience. We look forward to hearing from you!
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“I moved out of the area 20 years ago and happily drive 40 miles to still see Dr. Gorrell. Best dentist ever.” Kevin B.