The president of our company had visited a compression company’s booth at a conference he was at and walked away intrigued and with lots of ideas. When he introduced me to the idea of compression, I was skeptical. My initial thought was “How can compression help sleep apnea?”. Despite my skepticism, I myself was intrigued about the topic so I decided to do a little research.
You may have heard about compression but may associate it with the following:
Athletes wearing it to boost performance
Regulating body temperature during physical activity
Assisting in muscle recovery
Alleviating joint and muscle aches.
What, we in the sleep world, are finding out is that wearing lower body compression can actually help decrease the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. A study on compression and sleep apnea was done in 2014 and published by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. The results concluded that people who wore compression stockings during the day experienced a decrease in their severity of obstructive sleep apnea at night. Research is showing that fluid build up in the legs during the day can relocate to your airway during the night. The compression decreases the fluid in the leg which ultimately increases the size of the upper airway.
Long story short, compression will not cure you of your sleep apnea. However, if you have severe sleep apnea, it can help reduce it from a severe to a more moderate level or it can help reduce it from moderate to a mild level. Doctors are not yet prescribing compression stockings to their sleep apnea patients and are still encouraging everyone to button up their sleep hygiene but the future is a grand place!
Try these tips to better your sleep hygiene practices:
Eliminate caffeine and alcohol at least 6 hours before bed.
If you are overweight, participate in various things to help lose weight.
Limit the amount of tv, cell phone, and other electronic screens a couple hours before bed to avoid blue light exposure close to sleep.
Use a white noise machine to maintain steady sound to help you stay asleep.
Use your bed/bedroom only for sleep and intimacy.
Avoid eating large meals right before bed; eat a meal earlier and then have a light snack before bed if needed.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night to regulate the sleep cycle in your brain.
Avoid naps, especially too close to bed time.
Practice a relaxing ritual before bed time. Try reading, meditation or listening to soothing music.
Make sure you’ve upgraded your mattress if it’s older than 10 years. Also, replace your pillows if they are older than 3-5 years.
Bonus Tip: If you are not treating a sleep disorder, see a specialist and get it treated!