Author: Maureen Kemeny
Masters in Psychology, Certified Health Coach
Maureen Kemeny, owner of Lifeswitch Inc., is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and an Essential Oil Educator with a Masters in Psychology.
Her talent is to help people uncover the daily action steps that most suit their personality, strengths and circumstances.
Along with using your CPAP machine at night, you can simultaneously target other symptoms of sleep apnea. The symptoms I will be covering in this article revolve around sleep quality. Namely, insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) and hypersomnia (daytime sleepiness).
Sleep is so important to our health and well-being. Adults need 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night (read: not 7-9 hours of staring at the ceiling!). Not sleeping enough can lead to lack of mental clarity and focus, daytime tiredness, irritability, weight gain, etc….
If you’re one of those who have trouble sleeping, you know how frustrating it can be to try and get enough sleep, yet waste hours tossing and turning in bed. Here are some actions you can take in the evenings to improve sleep quality:
Monitor light intake: Remove or reduce stimuli from bright fluorescent light, devices with screens, and red light (e.g. red light from digital alarm clocks, air filters, heaters).
Explanation: Blue light emitted from devices, computers and televisions, suppresses melatonin. Low levels of melatonin can lead to insomnia and tiredness during the day, exacerbating symptoms of sleep apnea. It becomes a vicious cycle. To help break the cycle, light stimulants should ideally be turned off one hour before bedtime. (Unfortunately, yes, this includes your phone.) If your schedule really does not allow for this, then aim for at least half an hour. When you absolutely must use screens within the hour before bed, use the night mode feature that is available on most smartphones. For devices without a night mode, there are blue light glasses and apps that filter out blue light. Tempted as you may be, don’t sneak a peak before bed. Even a quick glance can stimulate your brain and delay arrival of your long-awaited sleep.
Other light sources can also pose a threat to a heavy slumber. If you have red light in your bedroom, cover it up with tape or take it out of the bedroom. If you have light coming into your bedroom from outside, invest in blackout blinds. They work wonders!
Reduce device activity: Cut off screen use- completely- one hour prior to bedtime.
Explanation: Just as certain lightwaves stimulate the brain, phone and device activity can undermine a calm brain. Filtering out blue light on screens helps with melatonin levels, but the content itself (whether it be an email, social media or tomorrow’s calendar events) can activate your brain, resulting in yet another sleepless night. As convenient as our smartphones are, they are a big culprit in sleep deprivation. If you do sleep with your phone in your room, put your phone on “do not disturb” so that incoming message dings don’t keep you up or wake you up.
Set up an environment conducive to sleep: This includes temperature and overall atmosphere.
Explanation: The temperature of your bedroom drastically affects quality of sleep. Aim for your bedroom temperature to be 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
It may also help to change, or create, your nighttime routine. A nighttime routine should promote calmness and avoid stimulants. Essential oils can be a natural aide in promoting calmness. I suggest setting up a diffuser in your bedroom. You can add lavender, cedarwood, vetiver, frankincense, sandalwood, or any other essential oil that will help lull you into a tranquil sleep. My personal favorite is Vetiver.
Note: I would like to caution you against using just any oil you find on the shelf. The potency, quality, and safety for any one ‘type’ of oil varies drastically across companies. For example, one company’s lavender may be farmed organically while another isn’t even lavender at all, but instead a man-made chemical replica whose benefits have never been tested.
Adjusting your evening habits to incorporate the above tips will create a more sleep-favorable environment.
1.Stansbury RC, Strollo PJ. Clinical manifestations of sleep apnea. J Thorac Dis. 2015;7(9):298–310.
Jessica Bennett, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who helps individuals and groups manage weight, health, food sensitivities, and other nutrition concerns. She believes that food is our first medicine and our health and sleep can be drastically...