Nasal congestion can be a minor problem for some and a huge problem for others. Stuffy, blocked noses mean difficulty breathing and this generally worsens at night when you lie down. Congestion is caused by the thin tissue in the lining of the nose that swells up because of inflamed blood vessels in that area. Viruses and bacteria are the main culprits of this swelling and these can be introduced by colds, influenza (flu), hay fever, nasal polyps and general sinus infection. You can try to reduce the effects of these by some simple methods.
Nasal congestion rinsing
Firstly, most sufferers highly recommend regular ‘rinsing’ of the nasal passages with a saline solution. This does not involve any expense as you can make your own with salt and warm water. For ease of use try a cheap neti pot that can painlessly rinse in a few seconds. It’s amazing how running water through a nose can help to CURE a runny nose! This simple treatment is quite safe for children and many neti pots can adapt to different sized nostrils due to the taper on the end spout. For a more professional solution and one that I recommend personally, try the SinuPulse Elite reviewed here. It’s a machine that irrigates the sinuses in a gentle and efficient way.
Opening nasal passages
Secondly, for a good night’s sleep it is essential to open the nasal passages to allow more air to pass. This can be done in a few ways but most popular are the cheap disposable nasal strips such as Breathe Right. After this comes nasal plugs which can help in the same way but are washable and reusable. Both of these methods can be used to combat snoring and help such illnesses as sleep apnea.
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Sleep Apnea diagnosis is particularly difficult, so to understand this ailment we really need to understand snoring better. Snoring can be a real ‘nightmare’ for both the sleeper and the bed partner. It is single-handedly the commonest cause of poor sleep and is extremely common, particularly amongst men, people who are over 60, overweight or smokers. It can be a major problem in relationships so where this is a problem the partners should try to discuss the issue sensitively and without blame as ‘the snorer’ is unaware of doing it.
Snoring may however be a symptom of the potentially more serious condition, Sleep Apnea. Snoring occurs when the soft tissue at the back of throat relaxes and restricts the airflow into the wind pipe and ultimately the lungs. The vibration of this tissue results in the familiar snoring sound. Sleep Apnea ocurs when this blockage is prolonged for up to 20 seconds. The loss of oxygen in the blood is detected in the brain causing it to disturb the sleeper. The disturbed sleeper now may gasp or snort loudly as breathing is resumed. This erratic breathing rhythm can occur many times per night. Although the sleeper may not wake, the disturbance causes them to spend more time in a light sleep pattern and thus they are deprived of the deep restorative sleep needed to recover from the day and be energised for the day ahead.
Sleep Apnea diagnosis
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea can prove very difficult as not everyone who snores actually has Sleep Apnea. Also, monitoring is difficult because the individual is asleep so unless their partner is able to record their sleep pattern, the type and volume of snores, sleeping position etc it will be difficult to monitor.
One of the clearest indicators is how the individual copes with the demands of the day. As normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, you’re less likely to suffer from extreme tiredness, difficulty in concentration and sleepiness during the day. There are many tips and remedies for snoring and these should be fully explored before resorting to the ‘other room’ scenario. Here’s a few of the best tips and tricks.
- Open up your nasal passages. Try to keep your nasal passages open at night using a nasal dilator, saline spray, breathing strips, or a neti pot. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, large meals and sedatives, especially for a couple of hours before bedtime
- Use a jaw supporter
- Use a homeopathic oral spray, there are a few well known brands that really work well
- Try to establish a bedtime routine that triggers the brain to get ready for sleep
- Get yourself one of the utterly brilliant buckwheat pillows
- Try to reduce stress and anxiety levels by making a list of your tasks for the following day
- Be kind to yourself and tell yourself what you have achieved during the day as this will give you a feeling of well-being
- Use a nasal irrigation system such as the SinuPulse that I own and recently reviewed
- Try to lose weight
- Quit smoking if you can
There are also many ways to exercise the throat muscles, toning them up and reducing the risk of snoring. These include, but aren’t limited to, singing, gargling with water, blowing up a balloon each day (yes, this can actually help!) and trying to play a wind instrument. Sleep apnea and disturbed sleep remedies can be simple and can totally change your life.