Healthy Eating Habits that Help Sleep Apnea

 Sleep apnea is a common disorder that plagues more than 18 million Americans every year. This condition causes the back of the throat to collapse during sleep, which constricts the airflow that delivers life-giving oxygen to vital organs such as the heart and the brain. If the airflow is restricted often enough, the blood-oxygen levels in the body decrease to the point where the brain decides to wake the body up in order to jump-start the airflow again.

This can happen hundreds of times a night without you realizing it, so you may wake up feeling fatigued in the morning even when you think you’ve gotten a good night’s rest.

It may not seem like a big deal to lose a few nights’ worth of sleep every once in a while, but the complications that can arise from sleep apnea are more serious than you might think. Sleep apnea can lead to problems such as depression, memory loss, decreased sex drive, and lack of concentration. Some recent studies have shown that this disorder can even lead to bone problems and higher risks of contracting pneumonia.

It’s important to find out what you can do to deal with this potentially life-threatening condition before something serious happens. One of the best things you can do to help relieve your body of sleep apnea is improve your diet.


One of the major causes of sleep apnea is linked to the epidemic of obesity in America. As fat deposits around the neck area build up, the disorder is more likely to appear due to restricted airways and compromised breathing. Unfortunately, because of the problems that sleep apnea can cause, such as extreme fatigue during the day, people are less likely to exercise and change their lifestyle in order to correct the problem.

Another result of obesity-related sleep apnea is an increased desire to eat, according to some studies. This is because the patients who didn’t sleep as much during the night had to produce 30% more insulin in their bodies due to hormonal changes. This increase caused the patients to want to eat more during their waking hours.

Creating a Healthy Diet

If you are obese and suffering from sleep apnea, the first thing to do is to make lifestyle changes a priority in your life. The best way to relieve your body from the disorder is to lose weight, and you can get started on the road to better sleep by creating a healthy diet. In fact, a recent study published in the journal of Sleep Medicine showed that if obese patients lost just 5% of their body weight, their sleep apnea would be improved significantly.

Meet with your doctor in order to plan a healthy diet that works specifically for you. Your doctor knows your health better than anyone else and can tailor a diet that fits your body type and lifestyle. After it is set, follow the diet religiously in order to see a difference.

Foods that Promote Sleep

While it is true that many people who suffer from sleep apnea are obese, it isn’t necessarily true in all cases. There are many adults and children in America that suffer from the disorder who aren’t classified as obese. Even in those cases, though, a healthy diet goes a long way to improve your sleep habits, and there are also some specific foods that might be really effective.

  • Kale: Leafy green vegetables such as kale contain a lot of calcium, which helps the brain manufacture melatonin by using tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps to make the hormones melatonin and serotonin—two hormones that help set your sleep schedule. Other leafy greens, such as spinach and mustard greens, contain plenty of calcium to help manufacture of these hormones.
  • Honey: Besides being sweet and really good when mixed with tea, honey is a good food to help raise the insulin in your body to allow tryptophan to enter the brain more readily. This is because it contains plenty of natural sugar, which is a lot healthier than the processed stuff.
  • Tea: Teas such as chamomile and passion fruit tea can both help relax your body before you go to bed. Chamomile can increase the levels of glycine in you, which acts as a mild sedative to relax your muscles and nerves. Passion fruit tea contains high concentrations of Harman alkaloids, which can act on your nervous system to induce some sleepiness.
  • Almonds: These nuts are high in magnesium, a chemical that promotes muscle relaxation and sleep. They can also provide proteins that help maintain a level blood sugar while you sleep and get your body into its rest cycle.
  • Dairy: A warm glass of milk before bed helps you sleep, according to the old wives’ tale. However, almost any dairy product can help you sleep better. Milk, yogurt, and cheese all contain tryptophan and calcium. The combination of these two things can help you sleep and reduce stress.

Eat Wisely

Both sleep and a good diet are very important to your overall health, and they often compliment one another in the sense that when you focus on one, the other comes along for the ride. Try to improve your eating habits so you can sleep better every night and wake every morning feeling well rested.

About the Author


Jason Smith is recognized by the board of polysomnographic technologists (BRPT) as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) since 2003. He is also Director of Clinical Operations for 6 multi-state sleep diagnostic facilities including the nation’s largest 20 bed sleep disorder testing center. Jason has also been a Co-Author with two research publications featured in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.