Sleep apnea is a severe medical condition that affects the heart and how a person breaths while they sleep. There are multiple forms of treatment available to our patients, but recent studies have shown that there is a way to decrease the adverse effects of sleep apnea by up to 25%—which is as effective as some surgeries. So, what is this magical new treatment? Exercise! An exercise program of brisk walking and weight training can be used to reduce the severity of the disorder.
Risks Reduced by Exercise
Sleep apnea has been linked to multiple medical conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes. It has also been associated with a host of cardiovascular problems, including:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Arrhythmias (fluttering heartbeat)
Exercise in combination with other sleep apnea treatment can reduce these risks.
Exercise and Other Sleep Apnea Treatments
There are standard treatment options like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, but they can be intolerable for some patients. In that regard, exercise can be a therapeutic alternative for some patients with sleep apnea. This is because exercise is easy and inexpensive compared to the alternative treatment options.
Even though exercise has been proven to decrease the severity of sleep apnea symptoms by 25%, Dr. Iregui recommends using a common treatment option (e.g. CPAP, oral appliances, or upper airway surgery) in unison with exercise. This is because the potential consequences of sleep apnea are so severe. The combination of treatments can significantly decrease the amount of sleep apnea episodes a person has each night.
It should also be noted that “exercise” refers to a program consisting of brisk walking, jogging, running, and weight training, or a combination of two or more of these options. In one clinical study by researcher Christopher Kline, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Sleep Medicine, he illustrated that the patients who only introduced stretching into their daily routines saw their breathing problems worsen.
Exercise Benefits for Sleep Apnea Sufferers
It’s common knowledge that being overweight is a risk factor for sleep apnea, and while that lost weight is a benefit of exercise, it’s not the only one. Other benefits include:
- Reduced symptom severity
- Reduced daytime sleepiness
- Increased sleep efficiency
- Increased maximum oxygen consumption
Routine Exercise Leads to Better Sleep
People have known about the health benefits of exercise for a while, but incorporating this tactic alongside sleep apnea treatment is a great way to promote healthy sleep. Recently, the advantages of exercise have gained the spotlight in the sleep medicine community due to a poll about exercise and good sleep. The results of the survey lead to the National Sleep Foundation revising their opinion on sleep hygiene tips, agreeing that exercise at any time of the day can help achieve better sleep. They previously discouraged exercise before bedtime.
Get the Help You Deserve
If you’re curious about sleep apnea, treatment options, or exercise, then we can help. Dr. Iregui is a qualified sleep dentist and will make sure you get the diagnosis and treatment that you deserve. Contact our office at 253-204-2643 to schedule your consultation today. Alternatively, you can fill out the submission form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.