A reader said I was onto something yesterday when I reported I slept better with my tongue suctioned to the roof of my mouth. Apparently, this is one of many techniques and exercises that some practitioners recommend for obstructive sleep apnea.
Holy crap! I just used engineering logic to cook up the approach in the middle of the night. I almost can’t believe I stumbled onto something that’s, well, a thing.
Anyway, according to this general line of thinking, I’m told (no studies have I read), the totally wrong way to hold one’s mouth during sleep is slack-jawed and with the tongue resting on the bottom of the mouth. This is the way I have always slept!
The right way, apparently, is to keep the jaw more tightly shut (but with teeth a little apart) and the tongue glued to the top of the mouth. Is this a general truth or does it just help some people and not others? I have no idea. Anyway, this is my new sleep mouth strategy.
There’s a sleep ear strategy too. Sometimes it’s the sound of the apnea events that wakes me. When that’s the case, and it isn’t always, ear plugs can help. There are studies on this.
Anyway, apart from nights I was on Ambien, last night’s sleep was the best in weeks, perhaps due to these two strategies. Lots of apnea events, of course, some of which woke me. But I was not conscious for any long stretches.
1. A reader shared this link, which has information about the risks of pharmacological sleep aids. The last page has a tapering schedule.
2. The Calgary physician I’ve been corresponding with said getting through a sleep apnea diagnosis would take considerable time there too. But he suggested that once diagnosed, a patient would be on a CPAP machine more quickly than what I’m experiencing. Score one for Canada. (On the other hand, without the prolonged wait, would Canada produce a blog series like this?!?)