WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA?
Sleep apnea is a very common but potentially dangerous sleep disorder characterized by regular pauses in breathing or shallow breaths as you sleep. Pauses in your breathing can occur up to 30 times each hour and can last from a few seconds to minutes before normal breathing is resumed often with a loud snorting or a choking sound.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. People who snore but who do not have apnea—researchers call them “simple snorers”.
People with sleep apnea can be at a higher risk for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). (1) Afib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to serious issues such as blood clots and stroke. So you should definitely see a doctor first before trying any home remedies. Take sleep apnea seriously as its potentially much more serious than simple snoring.
There are two main types of sleep apnea with obstructive sleep apnea (or OSA), caused by a blockage in the airways and a relaxation in the throat muscles, being the most common. Central sleep apnea (CSA)which is caused by a failure of the brain to send the correct signals to the respiratory muscles is less common. This article will focus on the more common of the two (OSA).
SYMPTOMS OF SLEEP APNEA
Sleep apnea is not easy to diagnose and it is possible to have the condition without ever being aware of it. Your partner might tell you that you have stopped breathing frequently during the night or you might be aware of waking up suddenly with a snort or a gasp. Other common symptoms include the following:
- Loud snoring.
- Waking abruptly feeling short of breath.
- Waking up with a headache, dry mouth or a sore throat.
- Fatigue and sleepiness during daytime hours.
- Excessive irritability during the day.
- Problems with attention and concentration.
Poor quality sleep caused by sleep apnea is a major cause of daytime fatigue and driving accidents and it can also lead to some other very serious complications. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack. It can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome as well as causing poor liver function.
Sleep deprivation does not only affect the sufferer but can also affect partners who may have to switch bedrooms to get a decent night of sleep.
RISK FACTORS FOR OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA
Sleep apnea can affect anybody at any age but there are certain risk factors that contribute towards the condition.
- Gender: Men are about two times more likely to have the condition.
- Being overweight: Overweight people and those with a large neck size are more at risk.
- Age: Although people of any age including children can have sleep apnea, it is more common over the age of 40.
- Anatomy: People with larger than normal tongues and tonsils are more at risk.
- Family history: Sleep apnea tends to run in the family.
- Nasal obstructions caused by deviated septum.
- Allergies and sinus problems.
- Alcohol: Both alcohol and sedatives can cause sleep apnea by relaxing the muscles in the throat.
- Smoking: If you smoke, you are 3 times more prone to sleep apnea than a non-smoker.
ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SLEEP APNEA
If you are suffering from sleep apnea, it is advisable to seek medical advice and in severe cases it might need to be treated with airway pressure devices (CPAP) that help keep your airways open. More moderate forms of sleep apnea can be eased with lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and losing weight.
It is also possible to treat your condition at home by using certain essential oils. Many essential oils are used effectively to deal with sleep complaints ranging from nervous insomnia to snoring and certain essential oils may prove an effective remedy for obstructive sleep apnea. Essential oils are safe and easy to use and the following oils have been used with a deal of success in treating sleep apnea as well as other sleep conditions.
1) MARJORAM ESSENTIAL OIL
Marjoram essential oil is a warm, comforting oil with sedative properties that help induce sleep. Marjoram oil is a popular home treatment for sleep conditions like sleep apnea. It is also used to calm the nerves, relax the muscles and relieve respiratory complaints. To treat sleep apnea, you can try rubbing a few drops of marjoram oil into the soles of the feet and the underside of your toes. Alternatively, it can be diffused near the bed while you sleep.
You can buy Marjoram essential oil here
2) LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL
Try massaging a few drops of this gentle acting oil into your feet, neck and chest before bedtime to ensure a disruption free sleep. Lavender oil is very popular because of its diverse therapeutic abilities.
It is very well known as a relaxant for those suffering from nervous disorders and sleep problems. Many people have found that lavender oil can ease the disruptions caused by sleep apnea and snoring as well as helping people overcomes insomnia.
You can buy Lavender essential oil here
3) PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL
If your sleep apnea is caused by nasal congestion, peppermint essential oilcan help relieve the inflammation and irritation in the lining of your nasal passage.
There are several ways to use peppermint oil to treat your sleep apnea. You can simply massage a drop of peppermint oil under each nostril before bedtime or inhale the vapors from a facial steam bath. Alternatively, you can add a drop or two to a glass of water and gargle it each night before bed being very careful not to ingest any of the mixture.
You can buy Peppermint essential oil here
4) EUCALYPTUS ESSENTIAL OIL
Like peppermint, eucalyptus essential oil is an effective treatment for sleep apnea caused by congestion. It has anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to clear up mucus from the nose and throat leaving your airways clear for easier breathing through the night.
Dilute the eucalyptus oil in a carrier oil and then dab a drop or two beneath each nostril before hitting the sack. It takes a little more effort but many people recommend steam inhalation as the most effective way to employ eucalyptus oil for sleep apnea.
You can buy Eucalyptus essential oil here
5) ROMAN CHAMOMILE ESSENTIAL OIL
Roman chamomile essential oil aids relaxation and promotes sound sleep. It also treats problems with the central nervous system and can be especially useful for those suffering with central sleep apnea.
You can buy Roman chamomile essential oil here
6) THYME ESSENTIAL OIL
Thyme essential oil is another natural remedy that comes highly recommended for sleep apnea and for snoring. It is extensively used to treat respiratory conditions and can help free up the blocked airways that may cause apnea.
If you are going to apply thyme oil topically, you must be sure to dilute it first in a suitable carrier oil. Alternatively, you can diffuse the oil near your bed through the night to aid your breathing and help you get an unhindered sleep.
You can buy Thyme essential oil here
7) GERANIUM ESSENTIAL OIL
Geranium essential oil is widely used to promote calm and good sleep. Massaging a few drops of geranium oil into your chest, neck and feet before bed is an excellent remedy for sleep disruptions caused by sleep apnea. Be sure to dilute geranium oil before applying it topically.
You can buy Geranium essential oil here
8) VALERIAN ESSENTIAL OIL
Valerian root has been used for centuries to calm the nerves and aid sleep and valerian essential oil can certainly help relax the body and mind and promote a full nigh of healthy sleep. People with sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders can benefit from using this soothing essential oil before bed and during the night.
You can also try using Valerian Root as well.
You can buy Valerian essential oil here
9) LEMON ESSENTIAL OIL
Lemon oil was part of a researched oil mixture that helped reduce snoring. The mixture of Thyme, Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint reduced snoring up to 82%. While the research was done on snoring it may also be beneficial for sleep apnea as well.
You can buy Lemon essential oil here
THE BEST ESSENTIAL OIL FOR SLEEP APNEA
If you had to pick only one essential oil for sleep apnea, then probably you should try Thyme or Marjoram Essential Oil. They have been in most of the studies regarding snoring and is in most snoring spray mixtures. Since apnea and snoring are related they should provide similar benefits. A pre-made mixture can also be useful: