Poor sleep patterns are the culprits of some of the worst accidents in the world. According to the U.S centers for disease control and prevention, 40.6 million American adults receive less than six hours of sleep a day. This makes up 30% of the population.
People who work the night shift and those who work in industries like warehousing, transportation, health care and social work rank highly among those who are sleep deprived. This demographic is made up of people aged between 30-44 years of age.
Causes of sleep deprivation include stress, chronic illness and conditions like sleep apnea and sleepwalking.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition where a person’s breathing is interrupted as they sleep. This interruption can occur from over 30 times within an hour to 100 times during sleep.
The condition deprives the brain and other vital organs of the much-needed oxygen to function.
Having been around for over 2,000 years, many solutions have been sought to combat the condition.
Some cultures suggested licking skulls to beat apnea while others ate the bark of the African Yohimbe tree to reactivate the nerves impulses at the back of the tongue and throat. This opened up the breathing passageways.
Most modern solutions are expensive as showed by some of the apparatus and treatment regimes used on celebrities who suffer from sleep apnea.
Shaquille O’Neal uses the CPAX RX package which includes CPAP mask, CPAP machine and medicine, as does Rosie O’Donnell and Randy Jackson.
William Shatner also suffers from sleep apnea and has a comprehensive treatment plan to combat the condition. Unfortunately, celebrities like Reggie White and Jerry Garcia have passed away from heart attacks exacerbated by complications from sleep apnea.
While these treatments are effective, Mother Nature had already bestowed upon us options to fight the condition before technology was even born. The best part is that her solutions are chemical free.
- Difference between snoring and sleep apnea
- Natural remedies for sleep apnea
- How to use essential oils for sleep apnea?
- What essential oil is good for snoring and sleep apnea?
- Top 3 essential oil blends for sleep apnea
- Things to consider before using essential oils for sleep apnea
Difference between snoring and sleep apnea
Snoring is a result of vibration of the respiratory organs because of obstructed air movement as one sleeps.
Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is actual pauses in breathing during sleep known as apnea or extremely low breathing known as hypopneas. These abnormal breathing patterns are due to a poor respiratory effort, or a physical blockage.
Unlike snoring which affects almost 50% of adults, sleep apnea affects 1 in 15 American adults. Some people who snore may have sleep apnea, however, not all people with sleep apnea snore.
Natural remedies for sleep apnea
As more people get diagnosed with this condition, medical practitioners and scientist are recommending natural remedies as a better option for people with moderate and even severe cases of sleep apnea.
Before going for surgery, or checking patients into an expensive sleep treatment facility, respected medical experts have attempted and recommended the following remedies with great success.
Weight gain increases chances of sleep apnea because you gain weight inside your neck as well as other places. This extra weight in your neck obstructs your through muscles and hampers your breathing capabilities.
Men with a neck circumference of 17 inches and over and women with circumferences of 15 inches and over have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
Alcohol can relax the throat muscle muscles excessively especially the uvula and the palate which control breathing.
Smoking and too much alcohol also cause inflammation of the airways and fluid retention in the upper respiratory system. In fact, smokers have 3 times the likelihood to suffer from sleep apnea than nonsmokers.
Sedatives relax the muscles and if used too much could excessively relax muscles pertinent to breath control and the functionality of the respiratory system.
Seek treatment for heartburn (Acid reflux), coughs and colds and congestion of the respiratory system
All the above conditions interfere with the normal function of the respiratory system.
Colds and coughs cause clogging of the respiratory tract with mucus and acid reflux causes acid to find its way up the throat and cause irritation to the esophagus resulting in swelling of certain throat muscles.
Treat allergic reactions with urgency and use a pillow to elevate your head if you have heartburn to prevent the acid from reaching your throat.
Use a humidifier
Using a humidifier allows your sinuses to stay clear. The humidifiers help opens up of your airwaves and dislodges mucus and other impurities that are causing blockage allowing them to be naturally removed by the body.
Avoid certain sleeping positions
Sleeping on your back is not advisable as your tongue tends to block the muscles at the back of your throat that are instrumental in breathing. The two best sleeping positions are on your side with your head elevated or on your stomach.
Use antioxidant supplements
The best antioxidant options are essential oils in their pure and natural form. Vitamin E, for instance, is a powerful antioxidant that can get rid of free radicals within a short span of time. Free radicals cause oxidative stress which is associated with sleep apnea.
Lavender is also another powerful antioxidant that has a calming and relaxing effect without making the muscles too lax. It promotes healthy sleep and will repeatedly induce sleep even when one keeps waking up.
How to use essential oils for sleep apnea?
Topical application can work in most instances like when using eucalyptus oil, (rub the diluted form on the chest) or lavender oil (apply on the skin). However, for best results, the following applications are much better.
Turn on the device for half an hour to heat up the oil and form the vapor. Even after you switch off the diffuser the device keeps diffusing the oil hours later.
Diffusing oils should be done in a well-ventilated room to prevent oversaturation of the scent.
Never diffuse the oils overnight. Instead, use a cotton ball and saturate it with 2-3 drops which will evaporate quickly once exposed leaving the room scented for the night.
A drop or two of the essential oil in a bowl of steaming hot water will infuse the steam effectively with the fragrance and essence of the oil.
Cover your head under the steam and inhale deeply for a maximum of 10 minutes. Do not stay too long under the infused steam.
This method clears your passageways and helps you to breathe easier.
Most massage parlors use essential oils for a reason. Not only do these oils penetrate the senses they are inhaled into the system opening up the respiratory tracts and nasal passage.
For example, using eucalyptus oil to massage the back, neck and chest helps ease chest and nasal congestion and facilitates easy breathing.
Localized massages are better when dealing with sleep apnea.
For example, blend two relaxing essential oils like lavender and basil and massage a drop around your nose and neck area as well.
Only use diluted forms of the essential oils. Let the essential oils seep into your skin and inhale them gently through the nose to relax and calm down.
A drop or two into your hot bath water allows you to inhale the essential oil as you bath in a relaxed environment. Because hot baths dilute the oil what you inhale is much better and friendlier to your system. You may need more drops depending on the essential oil you are using.
Because sleep apnea cannot be cured it is best to find a sustainable treatment plan for it and essential oils are cheaper in the long run and safe as well.
The essential oils that provide relief for sleep apnea are able to combat mucus build up, soothe inflammations, open the respiratory system and constrict the blood vessels.
Scientifically known as Mentha piperita, this oil has antibacterial and analgesic qualities which allow it to prevent nasal and throat infections, effectively combating respiratory infections.
Its soothing quality prevents the throat from itching and getting irritated which would result in swelling of the throat muscles. It also reduces the vibration of the breathing passageways.
Who can’t use it?
People with seizures and conditions like epilepsy and high blood pressure should avoid peppermint. It is also not to be used in young children as it can cause respiratory arrest.
Lavender oil has a relaxing effect and calming effect which helps with the quality of sleep.
Since sleep apnea causes restless sleep, you are bound to wake up on several occasions. When you wake up, the lavender scent will lull you back to sleep helping you to rest more.
Make sure that you only use Lavandula angustifolia for sleep apnea.
Who can’t use it?
Lavender has been known to trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people.
While there are various strains of eucalyptus, smoothie is easily tolerated by the most people and can be used on a daily basis. It is best because it can be easily assimilated by people who snore and it does not irritate the breathing passageways.
The oil effectively decongests your nasal passage and opens up the respiratory tract. It improves blood circulation allowing more oxygen to the brain which causes fewer apnea episodes.
Who can’t use it?
It is not recommended for people with asthma because it is not advisable to use it alone. Use it as a blend to reduce its irritating effects.
Thyme essential oil unblocks the nasal passageways and is used in treating conditions afflicting the respiratory tract. It also has a calming effect on the brain which helps you to sleep better.
Because exhaustion and fatigue can worsen sleep apnea, thyme’s relaxing effect soothes you into sleeping deeply.
Who can’t use it?
Thyme in its pure form can irritate the skin. People with sensitive skin should not use it undiluted.
Lemon essential oil is a proven option for reducing snoring. In fact, blends that have lemon essential oil in them as the primary oil have over 80% success rates in reducing snoring and sleep apnea.
Apart from being invigorating and inducing mood-boosting feelings, lemon essential oil has anti-anxiety properties.
Who can’t use it?
Lemon oil is stringent and harsh. It is irritating when used undiluted.
This oil has a sedative effect giving you a warm and comforting feeling. By providing you with these feelings you are able to sleep effectively without restlessness that causes you to wake up all the time. It alleviates respiratory discomfort and relaxes the respiratory tract which facilitates easier breathing.
Rub a few drops on your undersoles or diffuse it a few hours before you sleep.
Who can’t use it?
It is not recommended for anyone with allergies and asthma.
Who can’t use it?
Anyone with sensitive skin should not use geranium because it is irritating to the skin in its pure form.
This essential oil relaxes you promoting peaceful sleep. It also relieves muscle pain that comes from illnesses affecting the respiratory system.
By soothing nerves and calming the body you are able to achieve sound sleep without clenching throat muscles that contribute to gasping for air.
Who can’t use it?
Hypertensive people should stay away from Roman chamomile because it can cause a spike in blood pressure.
This oil is a natural pain reliever. It soothes nerves and relaxes the nervous system as well as the respiratory system in times of inflammation or swelling.
This calming effect induces deep undisturbed sleep effectively combating sleep apnea.
Who can’t use it?
If you have sensitive skin do not use this oil unless it is diluted.
Top 3 essential oil blends for sleep apnea
- Lemon essential oil
- Thyme essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
Mix the essential oil together in half a glass of water and apply topically. Alternatively, do not dilute the mixture and place two drops into the diffuser for inhalation.
- 5 drops of frankincense oil
- 15 drops of lavender essential oil
- 6 drops of orange essential oil
- 7 drops of geranium rose essential oil
Put all the oils in a spray bottle and shake thoroughly until they mix well. Spray it immediately or place a drop or two in the diffuser. You can also spray a little onto a cotton ball next to your bed.
- 1 drop orange essential oil
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 drop lemon essential oil
Mix the three oil together in a bottle and you can begin using the blend immediately.
Things to consider before using essential oils for sleep apnea
1. The severity of the apnea
In cases where your apnea is too severe and life-threatening, essential oils may not be the best solution for you. More advanced treatments with the option of surgical procedures may save your life and get you to a place where you can sustain healthy sleep with essential oils.
Sensitivity to some of the oils may prevent you from using them to combat sleep apnea. Because this oils need to be used in their purest form to have the desired effect you may encounter some that trigger allergic reactions that put you at other potential risks.
Admittedly, they may not be as expensive as checking into a sleep treatment facility but these oils are still expensive for such a small amount in the bottle. You will feel the cost because you have to use them for the rest of your life as sleep apnea is not a curable condition.
Men are more likely to have sleep apnea than women. And seeing as some men can be resistant to essential oils they may be missing out on effective treatments that could impact the quality of their sleep and overall lives.
Essential oils are nature’s way of ensuring that we are able to rest the way we ought to. Without them, we are stuck with chemicals that further deteriorate our health and leave us listless.
I hope that you can use these powerhouses that smell great and heal you safely before opting for commercial treatments. You will not only feel better, you will appreciate the beauty of scents and perhaps use them in other facets of your life.