15 Sleep Apnea Cures - 
From 60 Second Snoring Fixes TO Lifestyle Changes

Sleep apnea cures - animated word cloud image of snoring man in bed

Looking for instant sleep apnea cures? Here’s what really stops snoring listed from one minute solutions to long-term lifestyle management.

Most of the fast solutions are also easy. But there’s no universal fix, so don’t waste your money trying one gadget after another. Check with your doctor before trying any of these remedies.

Why get a doctor's ok before you try any of the DIY cures? Because sleep apnea syndrome complications can be serious. Frequent breathing interruptions during sleep can leave you more prone to obesity and other conditions like diabetes and heart disease. You could also feel tired and grumpy from lack of sleep which makes it more likely that you’ll have an accident or disagreements with family, friends and those you work with.

Fast, Simple home Remedies

#1 Change Sleep Positions

Sleeping on your back is good for your neck and spine, but not good for sleep apnea. Gravity will draw the base of your tongue into your airway, obstructing your breathing. Sleeping on your tummy can alleviate sleep apnea but is not good for the rest of your body. 

Sleep Apnea cure #1 - sleeping propped up on a wedge pillow.

Sleeping on your side is the best position if you suffer from sleep apnea. It can prevent airway obstruction and doesn’t put pressure on your neck and spine.

Another thing to try is propping yourself up in bed – use a wedge pillow to elevate your head four to 12 inches. Or better yet, get an adjustable bed frame. This can help people who have mild apnea. And it makes reading in bed a whole lot easier!

Here is a trick that is recommended by many sleep experts. Make a sleep shirt: sew a tennis ball into the pocket of a T-shirt and wear it backwards. If you roll over onto your back, the tennis ball will wake you up and you will be forced to turn to your side. You can buy sleep belts that serve the same purpose.

There are also neck braces, cervical collars, and specially designed pillows that can help to keep your head in a neutral position. 

#2 Clean Your Sleep Environment

Dust mites can contribute to asthma and exacerbate allergies. Our pillows and mattresses are full of them. To reduce those and other bedroom allergens, keep your bedding clean. That means washing everything in hot water every week and drying it all in the dryer, not on the clothesline. 

Vacuum the mattress and box spring, get rid of the carpet or rug, use washable curtains on your bedroom windows, clean windows regularly to prevent mildew and mold, clear the room of dust-gathering clutter, and remove anything covered with cloth that can’t be thrown into the washing machine. 

The uglies thrive in warm moist environments, so keep the temperature below 77 degrees F and use a de-humidifier during the day. Use a humidifier while you sleep to reduce your congestion and dryness of your nasal membranes. 

#3 Avoid heavy meals within three hours before bedtime 

Eating before bed triggers your metabolism when it should be calming down. Snacking or late meals can cause weight gain, which is an enemy to anyone suffering from sleep apnea. Try to have your biggest meal or meals much earlier in the day. If you need to munch while watching late-night TV, try an apple dipped in honey rather than chips or popcorn.


#4 Avoid alcohol

Studies have shown that alcohol can cause episodes of obstructive sleep apnea in people who don’t even have the disorder. People who abuse alcohol have a higher risk of developing OSA. 

Alcohol before sleep slows your breathing and causes shallow breathing. It causes the muscles that support your upper airway to relax too much. It can increase the length of the breathing pauses in people who already have OSA. This makes the drop in blood oxygen levels more severe. 

People with OSA should avoid alcohol entirely but especially within three hours before bedtime.

#5 Find alternatives for drugs and medications that increase snoring

Most sleep medications and sedatives can relax your throat muscles too much and slow your breathing. If you are taking a muscle relaxant for some other reason, avoid that before bed as well. All of these drugs can also extend the time it takes for your brain to wake you up from a breathing pause. 

Antihistamines and decongestants may help with allergies, but most or all of them contain sedatives that contribute to the over-relaxation of your upper airway muscles, and should be avoided before sleep. Avoid diphenhydramine, which is in most over-the-counter antihistamines. Newer antihistamines are supposed to contain less of the drowsy-causing ingredients but the jury is still out on that. Talk to your doctor about this. 

Nasal decongestants would be a better bet. But you can’t use these for more than 3-5 days without reducing their effectiveness. You’d be better off to find non-medicinal ways to address your allergies

#6 Try these Herbal Remedies & Essential Oils 

Herbalists recommend drinking a cup or two of stinging nettle tea before you go to bed. It may soothe the inflammation caused by pollen and solve your problem. You can buy the leaves at health stores. 

Peppermint oil, a natural remedy for sleep apnea

Peppermint has anti-inflammatory properties. Put a few drops of peppermint oil on the outside of your nostrils. Put a few drops in a basin of hot water and inhale the steam. Make a peppermint mouthwash with one drop of oil in a glass of water and gargle. Don’t swallow. 

Other natural products that can help include honey, eucalyptus oil, olive oil, chamomile, cinnamon, lavender, garlic, turmeric mixed with milk, Epsom salts, almonds, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium.

#7 Stop Snoring Ring

Anti-snoring acupressure ring

This is a ring that you put on your little finger 30 minutes before bedtime and wear through the night. It uses the principles of acupressure. The claims are that it reduces sinus swelling, reduces nasal congestion, and helps your throat muscles to do their job. There haven’t been clinical trials and there aren’t many reviews for it yet, but you could give it a shot if you have had success with acupressure for other problems.

Lifestyle Management - The real sleep apnea cures

You may be able to prevent or manage sleep apnea simply by staying healthy.

#8 Diet & Weight Loss

Nutrisystem Fast5 Weight Loss System - because obesity increases sleep apnea episodes

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you?

The link between sleep apnea and obesity is well-established. Losing as little as ten percent of your body weight may reduce the fatty tissue that obstructs your airway and put your sleep apnea into complete remission.

Body Mass Index is a good indicator of your risk for obstructive sleep apnea. You can calculate your BMI here. A BMI over 25 is high.

If you have mild food allergies, stay away from those foods or eat them earlier in the day. Food allergies can cause inflammation, mess with your immune system, or cause you to be congested. Sometimes, a sleep disorder is the first clue that you have a food intolerance or allergy.

The most common culprit is dairy. Others are eggs, nuts, shellfish, soy, corn, additives, salicylates (occur naturally in many plant foods), amines (occur naturally in cheese, wine, chocolate, and fish that’s going bad), glutamates (such as MSG), and gluten (found in wheat and oats.)

#9 Increase Exercise & Fitness

Fitbit - your anti-snoring secret weapon

According to Christopher Kline of the University of Pittsburgh School of Sleep Medicine, the severity of sleep apnea can be reduced by 25% from exercise alone.

He recommends a program that combines brisk walking and weight training. Walking improves your cardiovascular fitness while being unchallenging. Weight training improves your muscular fitness. According to the 2013 Sleep in America Survey, strenuous exercise at night doesn’t keep you awake. But experts still recommend that people not workout right before bed if they've got existing sleep problems.

#10 Sing

Yes. Singing strengthens those throat muscles. Not all exercise involves getting stinky and sweaty. Singing your favorite songs in the car on your way to and from work will make you happier, less stressed and help you sleep better at night.

#11 Quit Smoking

Quitbit - the stop smoking lighter

Yep, here's another reason to become an ex-smoker. The association between smoking and obstructive sleep apnea has been confirmed by several studies. Tobacco smoke irritates the soft tissues lining the nose and throat causing irritation and inflammation of the upper airway and this obstructs airflow. 

Smokers experience more nasal congestion than non-smokers and it is not yet clear what role this may play in causing sleep apnea. The nicotine in cigarettes may play a role, though that role is not yet clear.

Devices & Products

#12 Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

PR System One Bipap machine

CPAP and its close cousin BiPAP are the most common and effective sleep apnea cures. Nothing else comes close. But they don’t work at all for those who don’t use it.

CPAP is both a machine and a mask. The device uses small amounts of air pressure to keep the airway open. For patients who can tolerate it and use it properly, it is usually successful. The mask may be placed over the nose or the mouth or both and there is a strap to keep it in place. The machine lightly blows humidified air into a tube that extends into the mask. This positive air pressure prevents the airway from being blocked or collapsing

To be fitted for a CPAP device, you will undergo a CPAP titration – the machine is calibrated to you as an individual. Each breath you take is observed for apneas and the CPAP pressure is adjusted to suit your situation. 

Sleeping with a CPAP device is not comfortable for everybody, but it can maintain open airways when many other treatments can’t. 

Its effectiveness is affected by the adherence of the patient to the therapy. In other words, if you don't use it, it won't work. If you do, it will. But it can take days, weeks, or months for a person to adjust to sleeping with the mask and to the air pressure blowing into their airway. Some things that can interfere with CPAP adherence include claustrophobia because of the mask, nasal congestion, and other nose problems.

To boost your own CPAP adherence:

  • Make sure the mask is properly fitted
  • Use the heated humidifier in the machine
  • Don't put the mask on too tightly
  • Wear the mask during the day to get used to it
  • Set goals for wearing it for longer periods during sleep.
  • Here's tips on how to use CPAP when traveling

#13 Oral Appliances

The FDA has approved over 50 oral appliances, or dental appliances, that are usually effective for mild or moderate cases of sleep apnea. Known as “mouth guards,” they work by moving the jaw forward, thus increasing the size of the upper airway. They are often used in tandem with weight loss as treatment for OSA.

Your doctor will want a sleep study after the oral appliance is used to find out if it is working for you. Never buy one on the internet yourself. Your doctor and dentist must be involved in fitting it and testing it. 

#14 Nasal Strips

Breathe Right nasal strips open air passages and help sleep apnea

Nasal strips are a great help for snoring caused by colds or allergies. It’s a thin sticky strip that you place across the end of your nose. It pulls your nostrils slightly open, allowing more air to flow in through your nasal passages. Racehorses are actually using them these days.

For OSA patients without active respiratory infections, there seems to have been only one study into their effectiveness. They do bring in more air but are only recommended as a supplement for other treatments.

#15 – Surgery

Surgery doesn’t usually become an option unless other sleep apnea cures have failed.

The most common surgery for adults with OSA is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Excess tissues are removed (uvula, part of the soft palate, adenoids, tonsils.) This can now be done by laser.

For children, enlarged tonsils or enlarged adenoids are often the cause of sleep apnea, so they may need their tonsils or adenoids removed.

Tracheostomy. This is only done when the situation is drastic or urgent.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses low wave radio frequencies to reduce the size of the tongue and other tissues. Complications are nasty but rare. It is an option for people who can’t tolerate CPAP.

Palatal implants. This is relatively minor surgery used to treat mild to moderate OSA. Small plastic rods are implanted in the soft palate to make it stiffer and keep that tissue from blocking the airway.

Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA). This is quite a major operation that uses implants to move the upper and lower jaw forward to increase the size of the airway. There are a number of potential side effects.

Other surgical procedures can repair the bone or tissue of the nose or mouth, or remove part of the tongue or throat. These are only required for specific situations and some of the procedures are extreme and experimental.

Bariatric surgery. Reduces the size of the stomach.   

Nerve stimulation. A device that senses breathing patterns and stimulates airway muscles when necessary is implanted in the chest.

Sleep Apnea Cures

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