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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Sleep Apnea

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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 10% weight loss can greatly reduce the number of sleep apnea episodes that occur each night.

Stop Using Alcohol and Sedative Medications

Alcohol and sedative medications are nervous system depressants. 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.

Revision Information

  • NINDS sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sleep%5Fapnea/sleep%5Fapnea.htm. Updated December 28, 2010. Accessed June 3, 2013.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated May 23, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2013.

  • Sleep apnea. American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: http://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea.html. Accessed June 3, 2013.

  • Snoring. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/snoring.cfm. Accessed June 3, 2013.

  • What is sleep apnea? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/SleepApnea/SleepApnea%5FSummary.html. Updated July 10, 2012. Accessed June 3, 2013.