If you snore – or live with someone who does – it can be more than just irritating. If it’s associated with sleep apnea, it can put you at risk for some serious health problems
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to periodically stop breathing. Each pause can last 10 seconds or more, and in severe cases, these episodes can happen more than 30 times an hour. This can be frightening and fatiguing. More, it deprives your body of an essential nutrient: oxygen.
Fortunately, there are things you can do about it – including, new research suggests, exercise.
This review of the science, published online last month in Respiratory Medicine, analyzed data from eight sleep apnea studies that used exercise as a measure. Subjects – 180 in all, most in their 40s, all diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea – were split between those who exercised, from two to seven days, and those who did not.
The studies lasted from two to six months. Among people who exercised, sleep apnea symptoms improved. It became less severe, according to a standardized scale based on the frequency of their breathing interruptions, and the participants reported better sleep overall and less daytime drowsiness. Improvements were similar regardless of the type of exercise people did and were determined to be independent of any weight loss.
Your Dentist Can Help
Improvement of symptoms is one thing, but you still may need additional support to help you get the best of sleep apnea – so it doesn’t get the best of you. And the clunky facial mask of CPAP is hardly your only option.
Oral Appliance Therapy can be a big help – and far more comfortable than CPAP. The best appliances are all designed to hold the lower jaw forward just a bit, enabling an open, unrestricted airway.
They also work to keep the tongue from falling back into a fleshy pile. This structural support helps create more tone in the tissues lining the throat.
If you suspect you, or someone you love may have obstructive sleep apnea, reliable home tests are available. And testing is worth your while. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine holds that as many as 80% to 90% of us with sleep apnea are still undiagnosed.
The benefits of finding the right treatment, and exercise to your routine can be dramatic. With deeper levels of sleep, many people experience lasting health benefits, including
- Lower blood pressure.
- Weight loss.
- Improved insulin sensitivity.
- Improved productivity.
- Improved cognitive skills.
- Reduced risk of depression.
- Reduced medical expenses.
- Increased energy and vitality.
But more than that, better sleep might just save your life – or the life of someone you love.
Image by Pauliina Seppälä