Can sleep apnea be cured and can you detach from a CPAP machine? Sleep is designed to be a state of deep rest and regeneration. Unfortunately, for over 30 million people in the United States, sleep turns into an all out war of trying to clear carbon dioxide and pull air from the outside into the lungs.
As this war we call sleep apnea increases, an individual’s risk of premature death via heart attack increases by 30%.
If you have unexplained fatigue, mood swings, or notice that focus and work productivity are failing, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.
If you have low testosterone, dry mouth, unexplained weight gain, you may have sleep apnea.
Oftentimes when I discuss the possibility of sleep apnea as the driver of a patient’s symptoms they ignore it, because they don’t want to do a sleep study or end up hooked to a CPAP machine every night.
However, we can’t just leave our body deprived of oxygen and overwhelmed with carbon dioxide night after night.
Dr. Koichiro Tatsumi from Chiba University found that a large percentage of patients with sleep apnea actually did not clear the carbon dioxide during the day and continued to have elevated carbon dioxide in their blood. Even with CPAP therapy, only half of those who had the high carbon dioxide levels during the day were able to successfully clear it.
It is safe to say we need better answers and a more holistic approach to sleep disordered breathing and sleep apnea.
So can sleep apnea be cured? How can you become free of your CPAP? (A note of caution: Do not stop using your CPAP without clearing your sleep apnea issues first).
The number one promoter of sleep apnea is excess fat.
If you are over fat, you are more vulnerable to sleep apnea. If you are over fat, the inflammatory load is higher and according to researchers at Penn State College, inflammation whether from excess body fat, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, is the driving force for sleep apnea.
And to make matters worse, a state of hypoxia or low oxygen is the hallmark of sleep apnea, driving inflammation even higher. It is a vicious cycle. For inflammation support, check out Glutathione Plus.
The great news, is that inflammation is modifiable by food information, stress response and physical activity.
Around the year 2000, it became widely recognized that muscle actually functions as an endocrine organ as it secretes all manner of anti-inflammatory proteins and generally acts as an immune system modulator.
Exercise in relation to sleep apnea (think increased respiratory rate, increased heart rate, sweating, muscles burning) through its anti-inflammatory mechanisms and its mechanical tone of neck muscles decreases neck and tongue fat and the number of sleep apnea episodes.
One of the reasons we know that the benefits of exercise isn’t just about strengthening muscle tissues in the neck is because exercise decreases apnea episodes in patients with central sleep apnea as well as obstructive sleep apnea.
Exercise doesn’t have to be torture, in order to gain benefit, you just need to be consistent and need to do activity that is greater than your current daily activity. When you do that, you are exercising.
Are the following habits and behaviors in place?
- Exercise regularly
- Eat real whole foods
- Keep processed food at the grocery stores
- Avoid foods that you are allergic or intolerant
- Endeavor to reign in the effects of stress on your body
- Meditate on the Word of God throughout the day
What else could be keeping you attached to the CPAP machine?
Are you iron deficient?
Iron deficiency is linked to adenoid and tonsil hypertrophy which can obstruct the airway and produce sleep apnea.
Have you checked your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio?
A standard American diet is loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids, skewing the ratio and increasing the likelihood of sleep apnea. A low omega-3 index is associated with sleep apnea.
Do you drink alcohol?
Do you drink alcohol in the evening? Nighttime alcohol consumption can increase the likelihood of mouth and throat tissue relaxing too much leading to obstruction of the airway.
A 2018 Meta analysis demonstrated that alcohol consumption was associated with longer and more frequent apnea events as well as significantly lower blood oxygen levels.
Are you on pain medications, anxiety meds, sedative meds, sleep pills?
Do you sleep on your back?
Some people’s throat and mouth biomechanics do not permit them to sleep on their back without inducing apnea episodes. If you think this could be you, consider training yourself to be a side or stomach sleeper.
A 2013 study showed that 56% of those with obstructive sleep apnea at position dependent apnea. Meaning if they slept on their back they had it, if they slept on their side or stomach, they did not.
Do you smoke or have environmental allergies?
Do you have good air flow and low particulates in your home air? Inflamed upper airways, swollen sinuses restrict the muscles of the respiratory tract and reduce our natural waking response. This increases the likelihood of more and longer lasting apnea episodes. For help with allergies, check out, Aller Relief and Enviro Protect.
I hope you find something among these breathing opportunities you can put to work for yourself and overcome sleep apnea and have one less piece of luggage to hall around on your travels. For more sleep tips, check out this post, How To Get A Good Night Of Sleep.
Have you dealt with sleep apnea? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.