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6 Natural Sleep Apnea Treatments

Elizabeth Renter
August 9th, 2012
Updated 07/19/2014 at 9:17 pm
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sleepapnea 235x147 6 Natural Sleep Apnea Treatments

Affecting an estimated 18 million Americans, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes people to stop breathing during the night. An estimated two to four percent of Americans are affected by sleep apnea and don’t know it, and whether you know you have apnea or not, you are at an increased risk of everything from strokes to diabetes. Knowing how to treat your apnea could potentially save your life. Other good news? There are natural sleep apnea treatments you can use.

The periods of breathlessness in someone with sleep apnea usually lasts from ten to thirty seconds and can happen just a few times or several hundred times a night. Generally, it’s caused by the muscles of the throat becoming too relaxed during sleep and constricting the airways. These periods of oxygen deprivation can have both short term (migraines, extreme fatigue) and long term effects (stroke, heart disease, and death).

In most cases of sleep apnea, patients visit their medical doctor who may conduct a sleep study and then prescribe a CPAP machine, or one which delivers oxygen to the patient through the night. Unfortunately, natural solutions are rarely recommended, yet a number of natural sleep apnea treatments exist.

Some Natural Sleep Apnea Treatments

  • 1. Lose Weight

The vast majority of sleep apnea patients are overweight, and many of those who lose weight find their apnea to disappear immediately. One study, out of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found that 20 percent of study participants were completely cured of sleep apnea by an aggressive weight loss program. Others who lost weight saw a significant reduction in symptoms. Any weight loss program must include a healthy diet and regular exercise. Exercise may have its own effects on apnea, training the muscles and otherwise spreading oxygen throughout the body.

  • 2. Change Your Sleep Position

When you lie on your back, you encourage the throat muscles to close up, and your tongue to fall towards the back of your throat. By simply moving to your side, you can reduce this discomfort and potential trigger of apnea episodes. Also, reducing the number of pillows you use allows the neck to rest at a more natural angle, not pushing your chin towards your chest and opening your airways.

  • 3. Vitamins/Minerals

Several different vitamins and minerals have been shown to improve the symptoms of sleep apnea. Neurologist Dr. Stasha Gominak, a specialist on sleep, found that the majority of her patients complaining of sleep apnea also had a vitamin D deficiency. By increasing vitamin D consumption, they decreased or even eliminated the symptoms associated with sleep apnea. Who would have thought that simply spending time outdoors could be among natural sleep apnea treatments.

A study from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that vitamin C can reduce the damage of sleep apnea. Scientists have found that apnea can have damaging effects on the cells, but vitamin C can counteract that damage. By increasing vitamin C consumption while treating your apnea, you can reduce the potentially dangerous effects of the sleep disorder.

  • 4. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is vital to muscle regulation. Because apnea is a problem with the muscles of the upper throat, ensuring you have enough magnesium in your diet is crucial.

  • 5. Herbal Remedies

A number of different herbal sleep remedies could help with various sleeping issues, Whether it be sleep apnea, narcolepsy or delayed sleep syndrome. Lavender (Lvandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis) and California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) are two such herbs that could be of great benefit.

  • 6. Serotonin Precursor 5-HTP

Finally, the serotonin precursor 5-HTP has been recommended for people suffering from sleep apnea, as decreased serotonin levels can cause the sleep disorder. While serotonin production depends on magnesium, as mentioned above, 5-HTP can increase the body’s production of this “feel good” hormone.

While any one of the above natural sleep apnea treatments could help you, the first line of defense against sleep apnea is weight management. This is a frightening disorder, one that can literally leave you gasping for air, but rather than running out to get a prescription solution or a cumbersome mask, trying to correct the underlying cause of the apnea could leave you healthier than before.

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From around the web:

  • rohit

    Jay, did you get any natural cure and did it work for you ?
    - just diagnosed with central apnea

  • Ryan Bailey

    Very Nice website. I just finished mine and i was looking for some ideas and your website gave me some.

  • Leah

    Thank you for sharing this information. This will help a lot of people and good thing that they are people who don't stop on researching and studying on what makes people cure.

  • Artielle

    could the aluminum disc in the humidifier chamber of the cpap machine cause toxicity?

  • laura m.

    Getting tonsils and adenoids removed at a young age is a great preventative, also, have an ENT doctor check for polyps. My father in law had some removed.

  • Jay Jones

    What about natural remedy’s for central sleep apnea? I already take Vit C and Vit D. I have been using a Bi-pap machine for 5 months, but because the pressure is so high I have a problem with leakage from the mask. I’-m sleeping longer (7hrs vs 4 hrs and don’t have the afternoon drowses anymore. I don’t like the idea of being tied to a machine for the rest of my life. Do you have any suggestions?

  • 645og

    Breathe right strips worked wonders for me

  • joanne

    I would LOVE to find a natural way to stop my apnea. I already take magnesium and will now add Vitamin D to the mix. Funny, I've always been drawn to the aroma of Lavender. My body might know intuitively that lavender is good for it, who knows. By the way I am not even close to being overweight.

  • Phil

    I started taking magnesium supplements a week ago for some other health problems and I am here to vouch for its health benefits. I have yet to find out if it has begun helping my snoring and mild apnea, but I urge everyone reading this to begin taking it, it has cured me of acid reflux, muscle cramps, and gives me an added sense of well being.

  • Melissa Jones

    Thank you so much for your article! I appreciate others getting more information about natural sleep apnea solutions. I have been struggling with my CPAP mask and want to look at other solutions. I read this article ( and wanted to learn more about holistic or natural help, so thank you!

  • Nicole

    Some chemicals can trigger central sleep apnea, where you stop breathing even if your throat is still open. Sulfite, sulfate, and other sulfur chemicals can do this. The Feingold Diet, an all natural diet which helps people reduce hyperactivity and other symptoms, has a list of chemicals that can trigger symptoms and a list of foods and other products that they are in. Sulfur chemicals are often used as preservatives in snack foods and other packaged foods, and sometimes on fruits to preserve the color – you might see the ingredient 'sulfur dioxide' in a package of dried fruits. Sodium lauryl sulfate in shampoo and conditioner can also trigger sleep apnea if you go to bed with your hair wet and some of the shampoo or conditioner is still in your hair – these chemicals go directly through the skin.

  • Anarco

    Cannabis too :)