Sleep apnea affects millions of people around the world. The symptoms of sleep apnea make it difficult to get a good night’s rest - not just for the one with the sleep disorder, but for anyone around them too. That’s because many people with sleep apnea, especially obstructive sleep apnea, snore and gasp loud enough to wake others.
And that’s no fun for your spouse or living companions.
But there is help for sleep apnea. From physical and lifestyle changes to using medically-prescribed sleeping devices to possibly using a weighted blanket, you have options!
There’s more than one kind of sleep apnea that might be keeping you or a loved one up at night.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): Your airway at the back of your throat gets blocked during OSA. This typically happens when your tongue collapses against your soft palate, and your soft palate collapses against your throat, causing breathing lapses.
Central sleep apnea (CSA): This occurs when there is a problem with the system in your brain that controls respiration muscles. This results in slow, shallow breathing.
Complex sleep apnea: As you may guess, complex sleep apnea is a compilation of OSA and CSA.
All three of the different types of sleep apnea share some of the same symptoms:
Labored breathing and possibly even the stopping of respiration for up to one minute
The symptoms of sleep apnea result from poor sleep quality and the fact that your brain received lower amounts of oxygen during sleep due to interrupted respiration.
OSA is the most common, making up 80% of sleep apnea cases. This not-so-fun-for-anyone sleep disorder comes with its share of additional symptoms of sleep apnea.
Loud snoring that causes gasping, choking, often causing you to wake briefly
Sore or dry throat in the morning
Waking up to use the bathroom several times during the night
Here’s the kicker, though. You might not even know you have OSA, CSA, or complex sleep apnea. If you feel excessively sleepy during the day and some of the above symptoms hit home, you might want to check with your doctor who can refer you to a sleep clinic.
But if you have a bed partner or thin walls with other people in your home, then they’ll most certainly let you know. And they’ll most definitely tell you to get help for sleep apnea.
There are lots of reasons you may suffer from sleep apnea. Some of them are due to lifestyle choices, while others may be physical or genetic.
Lifestyle Sleep Apnea Causes
Cigarette smoking: Smoking increases the risk of OSA
Alcohol and other sedatives: Sedatives can cause throat tissue to relax, allowing your airway to become obstructed easily.
Obesity: This is the leading cause of OSA, contributing to 60% of all cases. When you are obese, your airway becomes narrower. Even just a 10% increases your risk by six times.
Physical Sleep Apnea Causes
Your anatomy: If your neck, jaw, tongue, tonsils, or other throat tissue is sized and positioned a certain way, you may be more susceptible to developing sleep apnea.
Back sleeping: Sleeping on your back allows for the tissue at the back of your throat to collapse easier than when you sleep in other positions.
Nasal congestion: If you have nasal issues and find it difficult to breathe through your nose, you are more likely to experience the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Hormones: If you have hypothyroidism or acromegaly, they may cause swelling of the tissue near your airway. These hormone abnormalities also increase your risk for obesity.
Genetic Sleep Apnea Causes
Family History: If you have one or more close relatives with OSA, you’re most susceptible to developing it too.
How to Reduce the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If you think you have sleep apnea, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. They’ll help you understand the underlying cause and point you in the right direction to reducing the symptoms. They may even recommend you participate in an overnight sleep study so sleep experts can evaluate your symptoms.
And while you’re talking with your doctor, ask them if a weighted blanket could help you. (This is important because depending on your symptoms and the severity of your sleep apnea symptoms, your doctor may or may not suggest one.)
If your doctor agrees a weighted blanket could help with sleep apnea for your particular situation, then you need a high-quality weighted blanket in the appropriate size. Our rule of thumb is to purchase a weighted blanket between 7 and 12% of your body weight.
Weighted blankets have an incredible number of benefits for anyone who uses them. They’ve been used to help people with ADHD and autism for years because of their calming effects. But let’s look at the benefits of weighted blankets and sleep apnea (if your doc says it’s ok!):
Increased oxytocin levels:This study revealed that increased oxytocin levels in the body lead to a lower percentage of sleep apnea experiences in individuals diagnosed with OSA. And how may you be able to increase oxytocin levels in the body? Through Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS). And what product delivers DPS? Why that would be a weighted blanket.
DPS is a slight pressure on your entire body, almost like a giant hug. It’s not too tight, and it’s not too flimsy (you know those huggers who feel more like a floppy fish.) Once your body experiences DPS, it automatically creates more of the hormones you need to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It also may help increase your body’s oxytocin levels.
Reduced cortisol levels: You recognize cortisol, right? That’s the hormone that gets the bad wrap because it’s often associated with your stress hormone. (While this is true, it’s also a good guy because it helps you flee danger and gives you the energy to get up and go.)
When you have a lot of stress in your body, it’s hard to fall asleep because of your body’s high cortisol levels. And high cortisol levels are linked to weight gain. And weight gain can lead to obesity, and obesity can lead to sleep apnea.
Why a Weighted Evolution Weighted Blanket?
Weighted Evolution's blankets are made using the finest quality non-toxic materials and meet high manufacturing standards. Our proprietary Sensory Sand and double-stitched pockets allow for the maximum amount of DPS to be delivered while you sleep without bunching up.
So if you’ve talked to your doctor about your sleep apnea and how a weighted blanket may help, it’s time to: