Chronic sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on physical and mental health. It may be linked to a host of disorders from heart disease and diabetes to poor concentration and depression. There are lots of tips and tricks for a better night’s sleep like establishing a bedtime routine or avoiding tobacco and alcohol. But getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge for those with sleep apnea. If you are one of the many sufferers who find the mask and air pressure of a CPAP uncomfortable, the four following options can help.


Dry air can be an irritant to the airways and respiratory system. Alleviate the problem by adding moisture to the air with a humidifier. This will help open up airways and clear away congestion to make breathing easier. You can also add a soothing, anti-inflammatory essential oil such as eucalyptus, peppermint, or lavender. Be sure to clean the humidifier following instructions from the manufacture regularly since dangerous mold, mildew or bacteria can grow inside.

Change Sleep Position

A study conducted in 2006 found that in over half of a group of patients with obstructive sleep apnea, problems were related to position. Those who slept on their side or stomach were less likely to experience breathing problems. Sleep posture belts are available that inhibit you from sleeping on your back. This small change can eliminate the need for a CPAP machine. Be aware however that studies show children with sleep apnea breathe better while sleeping on their backs.

Sleep Apnea Oral Appliances

A dental professional may be able to help you avoid a CPAP machine by fitting you with one of many sleep apnea oral appliances that keep the airway open. The appliance works by repositioning the tongue or jaw. The dentist will either prescribe a tongue stabilizing device or a mandibular advancement device. Some of these may be available over-the-counter (OTC). Look for one that is approved by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

Oral Surgery

Inherited features such as large tonsils, a soft palate, and issues with the tongue or jaw can be the culprit of sleep apnea. Oral surgeons may be able to make changes to a patient’s anatomy to help them breathe better at night. Additionally, upper airway stimulation implants (UAS) help tighten muscles around the airway to make breathing during sleep easier. Oral surgeries are not usually the first line of treatment for adults but may be tried first for children with sleep apnea.

Whether you use a CPAP machine or an oral appliance, either of these things can help you get better sleep. Either one can help you feel more rejuvenated each morning.

About the author

Kara Masterson

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