So Your Doctor Told You…You Have Sleep Apnea

Feeling groggy all day?  Falling asleep at work meetings, or as soon as you hit the lazyboy? Does your spouse tell you that you snore loudly or even stop breathing at night? You might have sleep apnea. I would highly recommend at this point that you meet with your doctor to discuss further actions.

What is sleep apnea? Obstructive Sleep Apnea limits the amount of oxygen that can get to your brain while you sleep. This then limits your energy during the day, increases blood pressure, blood sugar, depression symptoms, ADHD, headaches, tired/angry spouses and even risk for heart attacks.

How common is it? According to The American Thoracic Society, 3-7% of men, and 2-5% of women have sleep apnea. However, the statistics dramatically increase to >60% in overweight or obese individuals.

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Trainer Mike Says:

  1. Start moving. Studies have shown that brisk walking can help greatly with improving sleep apnea symptoms – potentially by 25%. If you are new to exercise, this is a great place to start. Try getting in a brisk walk for 30-40 minutes per day. Brisk being the key word here, your pace should increase your heart rate and get your breathing a little heavier than normal.
  2. Weight training can help as well. By starting a weight training routine in conjunction with your walking, you will be doing your body a two-fold service. Weight training twice a week has shown to improve sleeping conditions, body composition, and resting metabolic rate. All of this can lead to fat loss, which can also help with your sleep apnea. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.
  3. Exercise when it works best for you, don’t worry about timing. It used to be a thought that exercising at night hurt your sleep. It has been found that sleep quality is NOT altered when you exercise at night, and it may even help. A study published in 2011,  found that when people exercised vigorously for 35 minutes right before bed they slept just as well as on nights when they didn’t exercise. Another study, a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, found that 83 percent of people said they slept better when they exercised (even late at night) than when they did not. The more important factor is to make sure your diet is right closer to bedtime…

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Dietitian Mike Says:

  1. Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. This is a no-brainer, but caffeine will not help with your sleeping issues at all. Be careful if you workout in the afternoons even and use a little caffeine as a workout boost. You need to be getting a quality 7-8 hours every night for optimal recovery and health.
  2. Consider following a more “Mediterranean” style diet.  Studies have shown that by incorporating a diet focussed more on vegetables, fruits, olive oil, nuts legumes, whole grains and fatty fish, you could decrease your sleep apnea significantly. Watch our for processed, simple carbohydrates and low quality saturated fats.
  3. Increase your fatty fish intake. Salmon, halibut and tuna all can help improve your natural melatonin production through there high content of vitamin B6. These fish are also fantastic sources of protein that you should already be incorporating into your diet 1-2 days per week.
  4. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. While this is probably the time that most people consume alcohol, if they consume alcohol, it can hurt your sleep quality and increase sleep apnea symptoms. Because alcohol is a muscle relaxant, it can relax the throat muscles, making them more prone to obstruction. 
     
  5. Avoid spicy foods, chocolate, citrus, and other acidic foods at night as well. These foods can all increase acid reflux if you lay down for bed after eating them. Acid reflux can lead to damage and pain in your throat and thus making you more susceptible to sleep apnea. The relationship between acid reflux and sleep apnea tends to be a “chicken or the egg” situation as of current, but it is still a good idea for sleep quality in general to avoid these foods close to bedtime.

I hope these basic tips can help you beat sleep apnea and get you started on the path to health! As always, let me know if you have any questions, concerns or comments!

*BY NO MEANS AM I CLAIMING I CAN CURE THESE ISSUES, REPLACE CERTAIN MEDICATIONS, OR AN ENTIRE MEDICAL TEAM. MY INTENT IS TO PROVIDE YOU WITH SOME QUICK NUTRITION AND FITNESS BASED, ACTIONABLE STEPS, THAT CAN HELP YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW.*

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Stay healthy my friends,