We can suffer from it or live with someone who does, the point is that snoring and sleep apnea are very frequent conditions and, often, linked to each other. What to do in these cases? Is this something natural that you shouldn't pay attention to or do you need to take some action? Let's try to understand.
Why we snore and how this is related to sleep apnea
Snoring is the result of a partial obstruction of the upper airways, and therefore nose and throat, during sleep, a condition that can be caused by colds, allergies, but also overweight, loss of tone of upper airway muscles, polyps. The passing air finds impediments and this generates the vibrations of the tissues of the pharynx. The result is that sound that, alas, we all know and that often does not make us sleep. When this obstruction is no longer partial but becomes complete then we have apneas, that is an interruption of breathing for at least ten seconds. The tissues of the upper airways collapse and this prevents air from passing with the consequent effort to overcome this obstacle and start breathing again (Simou et al, Sleep Med, 2018). In these cases, it is good to wake the person up because in this way the muscles regain tone and the air can start flowing again. Over time and if episodes of sleep apnea are frequent, this condition can increase the risk of high blood pressure but also problems in the functioning of the heart, as well as lead to drowsiness, poor concentration and irritability during the day. This is why it is important not to underestimate snoring and sleep apnea. There are several methods to limit or resolve snoring and sleep apnea. Here we talk about natural remedies and lifestyle.
Essential oils and snoring
If snoring is caused by inflammation of the airways, colds and sinusitis, then essential oils can help. In particular, the essential oils of lemon, eucalyptus, thyme, lemon balm, lemongrass, lavender and pine were found to be beneficial when diffused in the room (Prichard et al, Phytotherapy research, 2004). However, they may not be effective against sleep apnea.
Lifestyle against snoring and sleep apnea
Keeping body weight under control, avoiding overweight and obesity, helps to counteract the risk of sleep apnea. It has been shown that in the case of overweight located in the upper part of the body, getting back in shape reduced the episodes of apnea during sleep (Loube et al, J Am Diet Assoc, 1994). The sleeping position also influences the onset of sleep apnea. In particular, the supine position can make symptoms worse. So trying to sleep on the side can help with sleep apnea (Joosten et al, Sleep Med Rev, 2014). Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of sleep apnea since it reduces the muscle tone of the tongue (Simou et al, Sleep Med, 2018). Finally, if you are a smoker here's another good reason to quit. Indeed, smoking increases the risk of sleep apnea (Lin et al, Chin Med J, 2012).
Yoga and its benefits against sleep apnea
Yes, even yoga, and in particular the breathing techniques called pranayama, but also some specific asanas, can help in case of sleep apnea, maintaining the tone of the muscles of the airways (Kumar et al, Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg., 2019). Among the various yoga exercises, Bhramari pranayama, or bee's breath, is particularly beneficial. In this pranayama you inhale through the nose and, while exhaling, always through the nose and with the mouth closed, you produce a sound similar to the buzz of the bee (MMMM), feeling the vibration propagating from the throat. The victorious breath is also excellent. This pranayama is practiced, like the previous one, always with the mouth closed and by breathing through the nose. At some point try to contract the glottis slightly, in this way you will make a sound similar to a light snoring while breathing. Among the yoga positions, the yoga position of the cobra is effective. Belly down, the hands are at shoulder height and push the earth away. In this way, the torso is raised from the ground, complete the position by fully extending the arms and slightly bending the back backwards. Also not forget the alternating nostril breathing, which helps to keep the airways clear and tone the muscles. The thumb of the right hand blocks the right nostril as you inhale with the left nostril. Then remove the right thumb and with the index finger plug the left nostril, then exhale from the right nostril, stay in this position and always inhale from the right nostril. Remove the index finger and plug the right nostril with the thumb and continue in this way.