Sleep apnea is an increasingly common but underdiagnosed disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep that can lead to the following serious health problems:
- cardiovascular disease
- type 2 diabetes
- cognitive dysfunction
- increased risk of dying from any cause
Fortunately, integrative interventions like N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and coenzyme Q10 can improve sleep quality and respiratory function in patients with sleep apnea.
Risk Factors for Developing Sleep Apnea
- Overweight and obesity
- Allergies and asthma
Signs and Symptoms Associated with Sleep Apnea
- Pauses in breathing
- Intermittent waking and insomnia
Conventional Medical Treatments
- CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)
- Other oral appliances to help keep the upper airway open
- Surgery for when the obstruction is due to an anatomical problem, such as enlarged tonsils or adenoids
Novel and Emerging Therapies
- Estrogen and progesterone for women
- Hypoglossal nerve stimulation
- Renal denervation
- Nasal continuous positive airway pressure and oral pressure therapy
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
- Obesity is the most important major modifiable risk factor associated with obstructive sleep apnea; therefore, weight loss is an important intervention.
- Exercising 2.5‒4 hours per week may reduce severity and symptoms of sleep apnea even without weight loss.
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC): NAC has mucus-reducing properties that have been shown to cause significant improvements in measurements of apnea severity and sleep quality.
- Vitamin C: Improves endothelial health of sleep apnea patients and reduces episodes of sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness along with vitamin E.
- Vitamin E: Shown to reduce episodes of sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness along with vitamin C as well as improve respiratory function in combination with other antioxidants.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Improves respiratory function in combination with other antioxidants in patients with sleep apnea. Patients with sleep apnea are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and CoQ10 supplementation may confer a benefit in cardiovascular disease.
- Selenium: Patients with lower red blood cell selenium levels were found to have more severe sleep apnea, as measured by the apnea-hypopnea index.