There are a number of changes you can make to relieve your sleep apnoea, depending on the cause and severity of your condition.
These changes only work for obstructive sleep apnoea (where the back of the throat is obstructed). They can be effective for both snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnoea but if your sleep apnoea is moderate to severe, or if your symptoms persist, you should talk to your doctor.
These changes won’t help with central sleep apnoea (where the problem is caused by the brain failing to send the right signals to the breathing muscles).
Lose weight (if you’re overweight)
If you’re overweight, try to lose weight. This can improve snoring and your ability to breathe when you sleep. Surgery for sleep apnoea is often more effective when combined with weight loss.
Be more active
Exercise can help to reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea, even if you don’t lose weight. Thirty minutes of brisk walking on most days can help and will provide other health benefits too.
Smoking worsens obstructive sleep apnoea. If you smoke, this could be a good time to quit. Quitting smoking is the one thing that’ll have the biggest positive effect on your overall health. Learn more about quitting
Reduce alcohol, tranquilisers and sleeping pills
Alcohol and certain medications can encourage the muscles in the back of your throat to relax. By reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, especially near bedtime, you may be able to reduce the severity of your obstructive sleep apnoea. If you’re taking tranquillisers or sleeping pills, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
Roll onto your side
Many people find that their obstructive sleep apnoea is worse when they sleep on their back. Sleeping on your side may improve it. Some people sew half a tennis ball into the back of their pyjamas so that sleeping on their back becomes uncomfortable.
Try not to sleep with a blocked nose
A blocked nose increases the resistance in your nasal passages and the likelihood of your airway collapsing. Colds, allergies or a deviated nasal septum can contribute to a blocked nose.
Try using a saline nasal spray at bedtime. Decongestant nose drops and antihistamines may also be useful but aren’t recommended for long-term use. Talk to your doctor before using them regularly.