Don’t Go on a Diet for Sleep Apnea — Change It

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious health condition that occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted while sleeping. This is caused by a blockage in the airway, which typically occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse against the back of the throat.

Those who suffer from sleep apnea can experience 15 episodes or more of waking up throughout the night and not remembering it. This leads to restless nights, fatigue, headaches, excessive snoring, and more. 

Health providers like Dr. Tiffany Brown recommend undergoing a sleep study to get a proper diagnosis to help determine the right course of action for you. If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in some serious consequences, such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and diabetes. 

This sleep disorder is also linked to the rising obesity epidemic that affects a great majority of patients. To treat sleep apnea, sleep specialists like Dr. Karen E. Guinn provide oral appliances as a comfortable solution to help eliminate symptoms. When paired with a healthy diet and regular exercising, this becomes a trifecta when treating your disorder.

The Impact of Diet and Weight Loss

Did you know more than 60 percent of patients referred for a sleep test are overweight or obese? 

Patients with excess body fat around the neck and face have a higher chance of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Dental specialists like Dr. James Fetsch agree that it’s common for patients with sleep apnea to have a large neck size and be overweight.

Losing weight through a safe, healthy diet is a great way to tackle sleep apnea symptoms and gain control of your body. It’s best to embrace a whole food, plant-based diet to achieve practical weight loss that’ll carry on in the long-run. Not only will you lose unhealthy body weight, but it can also help prevent several health conditions such as sleep apnea, heart disease, and diabetes. 

Foods to Help Treat Sleep Apnea

Rather than adopting a temporary diet, it’s important to change your entire diet and exercise regularly. This will help you feel energized and ready to conquer the day after a well-rested night. Here’s a list of nutritious and effective ingredients that’ll help ease your sleep apnea symptoms:

1. Melatonin

Melatonin supplements are a common and natural way to induce sleepiness and help you get a better night’s rest. But did you know you can find foods rich in melatonin, too? There’s a number of fruits and vegetables that contain it, including cherries, asparagus, olives, grapes, broccoli, and cucumbers. You can also find melatonin in a handful of nuts, seeds, and grains.

2. Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts serotonin into melatonin when it’s ingested — stimulating the endorphin that helps us sleep better. You can find tryptophan in common dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. It’s also in seafood, nuts, legumes, and grains, along with several types of fruits and vegetables. These may include apples, bananas, and turnips.

3. Calcium 

Calcium not only promotes strong and healthy bones, but it also helps in the conversion of melatonin. Calcium-rich foods are reported to be effective for people who suffer from insomnia and sleep apnea. These foods include milk, cheese, yogurt, juices, cereals, breads, and leafy greens like kale. Consuming these products can encourage relaxation and make you feel ready for a restful night.

4. Magnesium

Foods high in magnesium can also help you get some good shut eye. When ingested, magnesium can help reduce adrenaline and help you feel at ease. Magnesium can be found in spinach, kale, nuts, fish, soybeans, bananas, avocados, and yogurt.

5. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 can be a powerful supplement in supporting a good night’s rest because it helps transpose tryptophan into melatonin. You can find this vitamin in certain seeds and nuts, including pistachios, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds. Vitamin B6 is also in a number of fish, such as tuna and salmon, as well as fruits like avocados and bananas.

Eat Better, Sleep Better

If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, it’s best to throw out any unhealthy habits and change up your lifestyle. Start by exercising regularly and changing your diet to help reduce unhealthy body weight and tackle your sleep apnea.