There’s nothing like winding down after Thanksgiving and slipping into something loose and cozy. You nestle in the sheets, rest your head on the pillow and drift off to sleep … until your or your sleeping partner’s snoring abruptly wakes you.
Does this sound familiar?
First, you should know that you’re not alone, and resources are available to you. Second, chronic snoring may be a result of a potentially life-threatening condition called sleep apnea.
The good news is that simple lifestyle changes can reduce snoring and the health risks of sleep apnea. Unfortunately, many people ditch their good habits over the holidays and find themselves back at the beginning of their sleep apnea journey.
To prevent this from happening, prioritize your health this Thanksgiving.
Remember Obesity Is a Leading Cause of Sleep Apnea
This might be a hard pill to swallow, but most people in the United States are overweight. Furthermore, just a 10% increase in weight makes you six times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
The truth is that most Americans over 45 years old suffer from sleep apnea. Considering the serious health complications associated with sleep apnea, ignoring healthy habits over the holidays genuinely isn’t worth the possibly dangerous repercussions.
You should also realize that there are two types of sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain is unable to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. If you’re experiencing sleep apnea, make an appointment with Dr. Pasha to ensure you’re breathing throughout the night.
Obstructive sleep apnea happens when you can’t breathe normally because of obstruction in your upper airway. This may be due to a number of factors, but obesity is a leading cause. Getting into a routine of eating healthy and exercising may drastically reduce your obstructive sleep apnea without further treatment.
Here are some of the common symptoms you may notice from either sleep apnea type:
- Loud breathing or snoring
- Daytime fatigue
- Dry mouth and throat
- Difficulty with focus and/or memory
To determine the appropriate treatment, it’s important to know which sleep apnea type you suffer from.
Limit Your Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption to Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep
Many people stock their bars before hosting a Thanksgiving get-together to make sure there are plenty of drinks to go around. That might sound like a great time to some, but it’s important to remember the side effects of drinking alcohol.
A drink after a long day can help you wind down, but it doesn’t necessarily help you sleep through the night. In fact, alcohol can prevent you from reaching or maintaining a deep, restorative sleep. This interrupts your natural sleep patterns and worsens sleep breathing problems.
Keep in mind that caffeine has these same effects. People tend to serve coffee with dessert, so be extra careful to not go overboard. Caffeine can negatively affect your sleep, even hours after your last cup. In short, having a second cup of coffee in the evening can result in the same sleep interruptions you try to avoid by limiting your alcohol intake.
Know the Effects of Seasonal Dishes
Besides weight gain, typical Thanksgiving dishes can make you sleepy early in the day.
Turkey gets a lot of attention for its amino acid L-tryptophan — it’s the “drowsy hormone” that almost everyone thinks puts them into a food coma. But turkey may be getting a bit too much of the blame.
Tryptophan requires help to be shuttled to the brain. Most seasonal foods may be okay on their own, but when eaten together, fatigue sets in. The simple carbs found in stuffings, mashed potatoes and casseroles are exactly what send the tryptophan to your brain and make you tired.
Dairy products are also difficult to digest, which leads to your body using excess energy. Additionally, one or two alcoholic beverages may be fine, but you might find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open when you partner alcohol with a typical Thanksgiving meal.
And don’t forget about dessert! Those sweet pies result in an insulin release to combat high sugar levels. In turn, this leads to a sugar crash that’ll have you craving your bed earlier than normal.
Fill Your Plate With Healthy Food Options
This Thanksgiving, keep your health at the forefront and do your best to eat a balanced meal. If you want a truly authentic Thanksgiving feast, eat like the Pilgrims did.
The first Thanksgiving was filled with the foods that were available, like wild game and seafood, as well as Native American staples like corn, beans, pumpkin and squash.
The celebration wasn’t overwhelmed with wheat or sugar because those ingredients weren’t available.
If you don’t want to pack on extra pounds this Thanksgiving, we recommend sticking to the Pilgrim Diet. The two-plate rule can be helpful. Fill your first plate with vegetables — on your second plate, choose small portions of the meats and carb-filled dishes.
And enjoy each bite. Eat slowly, and chew thoroughly. It takes up to 20 minutes for your body to sense it’s full, so don’t be in a hurry.
Then, take it a step further by working like a Pilgrim!
There was no crashing on the couch after the first Thanksgiving. So instead, help clear the table, go for a walk or partake in a front-yard football game. The physical activity will aid digestion while burning calories to help you stay trim.
Get Tested for Sleep Apnea and Find the Right Treatment for You
Don’t go into the holiday season worried that you’ll doze off on the couch just to have your abrasive snoring stop friends and family in their tracks.
If you’ve been struggling to sleep through the night or dragging your sleepy self through the day, then it’s time to find answers.
Featured image via Pixabay