Have you recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea? You might be worried about your quality of sleep and are trying to find out why you are so tired even after a full night’s sleep. Maybe you have heard about people who use a weighted blanket and sleep apnea but just want to know more about a weighted blanket with sleep apnea benefits? Sleep Apnea is a condition that can really take its toll on your body and can create more health problems.
In order for you to fully understand this condition and how it might be affecting you, we have collated some facts and information for you. We will go through what sleep apnea is, the symptoms and how you might be able to help yourself.
Sleep apnea is a very serious sleeping disorder affecting adults all over the world. It’s an interruption of one’s breathing pattern while they sleep. Most sufferers of this condition tend to stop breathing during their sleep which obviously, can be very dangerous. This happens because the brain and the body don’t get enough oxygen.
There are a few reasons why you may have sleep apnea, the most common cause being obesity. The additional weight around your sinuses and airways can cause an obstruction and put pressure on them, thereby causing them to close up and not allow air through. This is especially common when you lie on your back. The other causes of sleep apnea can relate to misconnections in the brain, sensory issues, and specific syndromes.
If your partner lets you know you have really loud snores and/or have the tendency to wake up groggy and tired, you may have sleep apnea. If you believe you have this issue, please see a doctor or a healthcare professional. Seeing a doctor can help prevent heart problems and other complications related to the condition. They will also be able to investigate the problem properly and give you accurate medical advice.
Disclaimer: The tips and recommendations given here are intended to be used as guidelines. Furthermore, we recommend not replace our advice for a registered health professional or therapist’s advice. Once again, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional if you have a special condition.
3 types of sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea – This form of sleep apnea is the most common of the 3. This type of sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the throat relax. According to this article, the American Sleep Association has reported close to 25 million U.S. adults are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea – This type of sleep apnea happens when there’s a disconnect between the brain and the muscles. This means the brain doesn’t send the proper signal to the right muscles that control breathing when sleep.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome – This type of sleep apnea is the combination of the above two. It’s a complex combination hence the name.
Some forms of sleep apnea are easier to treat than others. For example, obstructive sleep apnea where obesity is the issue is simply a case of trying to lose weight. In other cases, it is harder to treat the problem because it is within the brain. The only way to tell which type of sleep apnea you have is to have yourself checked over by a doctor. They may want to run extra tests on you and want you to expand further on your symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Some of the symptoms associated with obstructive and central sleep apnea overlap. This makes it extremely difficult to figure out which type of sleep apnea you may possess.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Very audible snoring
- Reports from others that you stop breathing as you sleep
- Gasping for air
- Wake up with a dry mouth
- Daytime sleepiness even after a “good” night’s sleep (hypersomnia)
- Loss of mental focus
- Mind-numbing headaches in the morning
Can it lead to complications?
Unfortunately, if left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to more complications. These complications can include depression and difficulty functioning on a day to day basis. It can be miserable living with these problems and can make your life much worse, especially when you are so tired in the first place.
A more serious complication is high blood pressure and a higher risk of a stroke. This is due to less oxygen getting into your body at night and your organs not being able to get the rest and recuperation they need.
With these complications in mind, it is so important to get yourself checked out by a doctor and get some treatment. Some treatments are very simple such as those listed below, others involve things like a CPAP machine to help keep you breathing at night with oxygen.
How to treat at home
You might think that only the Doctor can help you with sleep apnea but actually, there are several things that you can do as well as seeking medical advice.
- Lose weight – As this can cause an obstruction to your sinuses and airways, the quickest way to remove this obstruction is to lose weight. While a healthy diet will be crucial for this, losing weight by exercising is the best way when you are trying to cure your sleep apnea. The additional oxygen that will be coursing through your body from the exercise will benefit your body, especially your organs. When suffering from sleep apnea, you are actually limiting the amount of oxygen that goes into your body. By exercising you are replacing that oxygen and oxygenating your organs at the same time.
- Sleep on your side – This is particularly important for those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side helps to distribute the weight more evenly and can move it away from your airways. Some people use foam wedges to stay on their side at night. It has even been known for people to attach tennis balls to the back of their pajamas in an attempt to remind them to sleep on their sides.
- Stop smoking – Smoking, especially all of the chemicals in cigarettes, can have a really negative impact on your sleep health. It can cause irritation and make your sleep apnea worse.
- Reduce your levels of alcohol – Alcohol is a big no-no when it comes to sleep apnea, especially when it is near to bedtime. The alcohol relaxes your body so that you sleep more deeply. When this happens, you are more likely to stop breathing and have and apnea episode. If you do have to drink alcohol, make sure you limit it to two drinks and to have it at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- DO NOT take sleeping pills – Because sleep apnea causes a disturbed nights sleep, you might wake up feeling tired and groggy. Most people feel exhausted by the time they get to bed and just want to take something to help them stay asleep through the night. Unfortunately taking a sleeping pill isn’t the answer. This, like the alcohol, puts you into such a deep sleep that you are more likely to have an apnea attack. You are also less likely to notice you’ve stopped breathing and less likely to jolt yourself awake.
- Try a weighted blanket – The pressure that a weighted blanket provides while you sleep will help your respiratory system relax and allow more air in. You might like to know more about the guidelines on a weighted blanket with sleep apnea benefits to ensure you purchase the right one for your body weight and size. Remember they are specific to you and buying the wrong weighted blanket may lead to more problems.
Can a weighted blanket help sleep apnea?
Short answer – yes!
If your sleep apnea isn’t treated, your air passages become more obstructed over time. This is extremely dangerous and shouldn’t be ignored. The end result of not getting treatment is never waking up. This is why we believe weighted blankets are the perfect holistic assistant to help treat sleep apnea.
Weighted blankets help improve oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin plays a huge part is in your sleep hygiene. In a 2017 study, it was found that increasing oxytocin during sleep improved the length of sleep and the quality. It was also concluded that it may help reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
Most sleep apnea suffers believe that having a heavy blanket could be detrimental to their sleep apnea but they’re wrong. Having a weighted blanket cover your body actually does the opposite. Weighted blankets relax your respiratory system and even out your breathing patterns. When your breathing patterns are evened out, you’ll sleep better.
The aim of a weighted blanket for sleep apnea suffers is to help facilitate your breathing as you sleep. They make breathing easier. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea but just a mild snorer, this may be the solution for you.
Note: Researchers are still hesitant to announce weighted blankets as a complete cure for sleep apnea. Weighted blankets are great to help manage symptoms, not cure symptoms. There’s still very little research which is why there’s no conclusive answer.
So now that we have gone through the different types of sleep apnea, symptoms, causes, and treatment (including weighted blanket and sleep apnea advice), hopefully, you will be more informed knowing what to look out for and how you can help yourself at home. Some of the steps can be very simple and if it means a good night’s sleep for you, it’s worth giving them a go. Remember that the best way to get help for this sleep condition is to see your doctor. But while you undergo tests, why not try using a weighted blanket with sleep apnea benefits as an at-home remedy?