An estimated 18 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of sleep apnea. From the Greek expression for “want of breath,” sleep apnea causes cessation of breathing during the night. Bouts usually last from 10 to 30 seconds and can occur from just a few times to several hundred. The main cause is the throat muscles becoming too relaxed during sleep and constricting the airway.
Two out of four people with the condition do not even realize they are sleep deprived due to apnea, and thus are at greater risk of suffering from both short-term ailments such as migraines or extreme fatigue, and long-term effects that include stroke and heart disease.
1. Lose Weight via Diet and Exercise
Most people find the problem clears up or is greatly improved when they lose weight. One of the easiest and healthiest ways is eating only fruit from morning until noon, and then eating healthy, nutritious meals for lunch and dinner. Avoid processed, sugar-laden and deep-fried foods.
Exercise at least four times a week. Doing moderate exercise for just 40 minutes has been shown to significantly reduce sleep apnea (Sleep journal). Use a medicine ball to follow a trainer tutorial at Tinyurl.com/25MinMedicineBallWorkout. A mini-trampoline also offers a safe and effective workout. A brisk 20-to-30-minute daily walk is a must for better sleep.
2. Sleep on Either Side
Lying on the back encourages throat muscles to close up and the tongue to fall toward the back of the throat. Shifting onto one side reduces this discomfort and potential apnea episodes. Using one pillow beneath the head allows the neck to rest at a more natural angle, rather than pushing the chin toward the chest, which restricts the airway.
3. Vitamins D and C
Almost everyone is deficient in vitamin D, even many in sunny regions, reports Dr. Joseph Mercola in his report, The Amazing Wonder Nutrient.
Wisely managed sun exposure supplies vitamin D—no more than 20 minutes a day, 10 minutes on each side—without suntan lotion. Alternatively, a high-dose of a quality vitamin D supplement measuring 5,000 international units is adequate, but always take it along with vitamin K2, which helps the body process calcium properly to avoid overdose problems.
Our body does not store vitamin C, so we need at least 2,000 milligrams daily to maintain good health. A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that vitamin C can reduce damage caused by sleep apnea. High-content foods include bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwi fruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas and papayas.
4. Magnesium, the Master Mineral
From 70 to 80 percent of mankind is deficient in magnesium, which has been connected with prevention of degenerative diseases and mental health and is often the missing mineral in an individual’s wellness equation, according to Enviromedica’s Ancient Minerals.
It also regulates muscle function, including those in the upper throat involved with apnea. Organic foods and farmers’ market offerings may have higher levels of magnesium, especially those packed with green chlorophyll.
Liquid chlorophyll is available in most health stores. Start by drinking one glass (250 milliliters) per day for a week, and then take two tablespoons daily. Spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, almonds, black beans, avocados, figs, bananas and dark chocolate (avoid brands with white sugar) are good sources.
5. Helpful Natural Medicines
• Just before bedtime, consume one teaspoon of olive oil (or organic honey) combined with three drops of lavender essential oil.
• Supplement with serotonin precursor 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which complements magnesium.
• One of the best pure sources of omega-3—a top remedy for sleep apnea by protecting cells from stress—is krill oil (Alternative Medicine Review). Sleep apnea causes long-term oxidative stress and puts severe demands on the body, which is thought to deplete omega-3 levels.
Lloyd Jenkins is a certified naturopath native to Canada and owner of the Budwig Cancer Clinic, in Malaga, Spain. He’s the author of seven books and many articles on treating common diseases using natural therapies.
The Proper Pillow
by Randy Kambic
The right natural pillow is a key component to restful sleep. In fact, pillow comfort and support are as critical to good sleep as the proper mattress. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 91 percent of Americans say that a good pillow is key to their sleep quality. Investing in a high-quality, supportive pillow can be transformative, both personally and professionally. The RAND Corporation calculates that poor sleep among U.S. workers annually costs the U.S. economy some $411 billion.
Replace old, worn-out pillows. Pillows can harbor dust mites and their excrement, dead skin cells and bacteria that can exacerbate allergy symptoms. If a pillow is clumping, losing support or yellowing, replace it, says Michelle Fishberg, co-founder of sleep wellness company Slumbr.
“Quality, properly sourced, down and feather pillows can be comfortable for those that like classic, soft pillows. Buckwheat and natural latex pillows each have unique qualities promoting better sleep. Buckwheat is therapeutic for back pain, all-natural and hypoallergenic, and reduces snoring for some,” advises Fishberg.
Pillow care. The NSF suggests using pillow as well as mattress protectors; PureCare mattress is their official source including a range of down pillows and its MiteTight protector. Organic cotton covers are kind to people and the planet.
Slumbr.com likewise advises using a protective cover to extend pillow life. Don’t dry clean pillows, because chemicals and heat can do damage. A down pillow can be washed, but it’s best to have it professionally cleaned by a down specialist every three to four years. Or wash them at home no more than twice a year on the delicate cycle, alone in a large or commercial washing machine, to avoid breaking down the down’s natural oils and structure. Latex pillows can be occasionally hand-washed with mild detergent and air-dried flat. Don’t wash buckwheat pillows—if the hulls get wet, pour them into a fine mesh bag and air-dry them in the sun.