The machines use a method called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, which keeps the airway open and relieves potentially dangerous pauses in breathing during the night. But the machines are expensive, and some people complain that the mask and headgear cause uncomfortable side effects, likecongestion.
One free and fairly simple alternative may be exercises that strengthen the throat. While they aren’t as established or as well studied as breathing machines, some research suggests they may reduce the severity of sleep apnea by building up muscles around the airway, making them less likely to collapse at night.
Ina study published last yearin The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, scientists recruited a group of people with obstructive sleep apnea and split them into two groups. One was trained to do breathing exercises daily, while the other did 30 minutes of throat exercises, including swallowing and chewing motions, placing the tip of the tongue against the front of the palate and sliding it back, and pronouncing certain vowels quickly and continuously.
After three months, subjects who did the throat exercises snored less, slept better and reduced the severity of their condition by 39 percent. They also showed reductions in neck circumference, a known risk factor forapnea. The control group showed almost no improvement.
Other randomized studies have found similar effects.One even showedthat playing instruments that strengthen the airways, like the didgeridoo, can ease sleep apnea.
BOSTON, June 16 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers have linked air pollution and sleep-disordered breathing -- a known cause of heart disease.
Antonella Zanobetti, Dr. Susan Redline, Dr. Diane Gold of Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues used data from the Sleep Heart Health Study, which included more than 6,000 participants from 1995 to 1998, as well as federal air pollution monitoring data from Framingham, Mass.; Minneapolis; New York; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Sacramento; and Tucson.
The researchers said sleep-disordered breathing affects as many as 17 percent of U.S. adults.
Over all seasons, the study found short-term elevations in temperature were linked with increased in Respiratory Disturbance Index, which was used to gauge the severity of sleep-disordered breathing.
"Particles may influence sleep through effects on the central nervous system, as well as the upper airways," Zanobetti said in a statement. "Poor sleep may disproportionately afflict poor urban populations. Our findings suggest that one mechanism for poor sleep and sleep health disparities may relate to environmental pollution levels."