A machine won’t solve your sleep issues
Everyone loves a shortcut.
I know I sure do. There’s not much better than saving a little time – because that’s the one thing we can’t make more of.
But when it comes to your health, there are no shortcuts.
If you’re battling a chronic health problem, you need to take care of it the right way – or your shortcut could become a dead end.
New research shows how that’s especially true of sleep apnea, the chronic condition where you stop breathing in the night for 10 or more seconds at a time, dozens or even hundreds of times per night.
Those little lapses of oxygen can do lasting damage inside your body, increasing the risk of serious health problems including heart attack.
The shortcut to easing the condition is a CPAP machine, or a breathing mask that delivers a steady flow of oxygen while you sleep so you’re never cut off – in theory stopping the damage of apnea.
Problem solved, right?
Turns out, that extra oxygen doesn’t do much of anything for sleep apnea patients with heart disease. There’s no cut in the risk of heart problems, stroke, hospitalization due to heart problems, or even death.
The machine wasn’t completely useless. Folks in the study who used it were less tired during the day and had less anxiety and a better mood as a result.
On the other hand, the machine is uncomfortable and tough to sleep with, and many of them consistently woke up at night to tear it off.
Can you blame them? It’s like sleeping inside a noisy Halloween costume.
It would be one thing to put up with all that discomfort if it actually did its job and saved lives. But without that major benefit, this is a shortcut that ultimately leads to nowhere.
So consider CPAP a temporary measure at best.
If you really want to sleep better at night and make sure your body gets the oxygen it needs to protect the heart, you’re going to have to take the long way.
You’re going to have to lose some weight.
Obesity is the single biggest cause of apnea, and losing the extra weight will almost always ease the disease. Even just a little weight loss can bring big benefits when it comes to sleep.
But don’t settle for just a little weight loss. Keep at it – keep working, and you won’t just cut the risks that come along for the ride with sleep apnea.
You’ll also be better able to prevent or control diabetes and cut your risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and more.
While you work on your waistline, or if you’re at a normal weight but still have apnea, you can look into a dental device that keeps the airway open at night.
There are dentists who specialize in customizing the correct fit for you.