Sleep apnea: low testosterone and death
One of the easiest ways to at least improve the problem is to stop sleeping on your back, as this position allows gravity to collapse your throat. Stomach sleeping, however, puts gravity back on your side, pulling the tissues of your mouth and throat forward.
Side sleeping is also helpful, especially if you can sleep on your left side, as it creates optimal blood circulation and reduces the risk of airway “collapse”. Sleeping on the right side, while not as effective as sleeping on the left side, also promotes air circulation.
If side sleeping positions are unfamiliar to you, you can try using a thicker pillow to support your head. Alternatively, you can buy one of these Japanese love pillows (dakimakura) that have an Anime girl painted on them. A normal body pillow would work too, but they’re a little less exciting. Either way, they can help keep the body in the same position all night.
Easy alternative treatments for mild or transient cases of sleep apnea include rinsing the sinuses at night using a neti pot, using nasal decongestants or nasal strips, avoiding excess alcohol and weight loss.
In more serious cases, there are more serious solutions. One wears a “continuous positive airway pressure” (CPAP) device in which a small compressor blows air into a mask worn over the nose and mouth. The device was reverse-engineered from a common vacuum cleaner in the 1980s by an Australian doctor. You may have seen one in the episode “Sopranos” where Tony, upon seeing a medic slipping a CPAP mask over Junior’s head, snapped and said, “How many MiGs did you shoot down last week? “
Either way, it’s easy to see why CPAP compliance is low, ranging from 29% to 83%, depending on which survey you believe. They’re uncomfortable and they’re definitely not sexy.
The remaining alternatives consist of a variety of surgeries, with the exact type depending on the OSA patient’s particular situation. Some may require palate surgery or “uvulopalatopharyngoplasty,” where they remove part of the palate, along with the tonsils and uvula.
Removal of adenoids or tonsils is also applicable in some patients, as is cautery or laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, tongue surgery, nerve stimulation, permanent tracheotomy, bariatric surgery (simply to reduce weight body) and even skeletal surgery where they rearrange your jawbone. Others find relief in palatal implants where the doc puts rods in the throat, over which scar tissue forms to stiffen the palate.