Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep Apnea, Solutions

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or think you might have the condition, you may have questions about how to treat it.

There are several treatment options; the most effective way to treat your sleep apnea depends on the severity of your condition.

Generally, mild to moderate cases can be effectively managed with the same techniques used to treat primary snoring (i.e. non-apnea). Severe cases where your AHI is over 30 are best managed with CPAP.

In extreme cases where CPAP is not tolerated and there is a clear physical obstruction, surgery can also be an option.

This article explores the various methods that can be used to manage obstructive sleep apnea.

Each category has links to other useful SnoreLab articles on the subject.

Side note: what determines sleep apnea severity?

The severity of sleep apnea is split into mild, moderate and severe. These designations are based on how many times you experience apnea or hypopnea episodes per hour – your AHI score. This is where your breathing completely stops or partially stops for 10 seconds or more.

Make sure to read our article about sleep apnea diagnosis to understand sleep studies, the AHI score and classifying the severity of obstructive sleep apnea.

Making suitable lifestyle changes

If your sleep apnea is at the milder end of the spectrum, you can treat it by making some targeted lifestyle changes.

What is most effective depends greatly on what is responsible for your sleep apnea in the first place. Generally speaking, the following lifestyle changes have the most positive impact:

1. Lose weight

Your weight has a significant influence on your likelihood of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Simply put, the heavier you are, the more likely you are to suffer from OSA.

Side note: the statistics of weight loss and sleep apnea

Some epidemiological studies indicate that 70% of patients experiencing sleep apnea are obese, and 40% of obese people are suffering from sleep apnea [1].

Promisingly, research has demonstrated that losing 10-15% of your body weight can half the severity of your sleep apnea [2], and that losing 60% of body fat can eradicate sleep apnea for around 86% of obese people [3].

There’s no shortage of advice or special diets when it comes to losing weight. It can all be a bit confusing and overwhelming. No single technique works wonders for everyone, and drastic solutions are rarely stuck at for very long.

Instead, be sure to check out SnoreLab’s SMART strategy for effective, sustainable weight loss and also have a read of our full article of the impact of weight on snoring and sleep apnea.

2. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption

Smokers, and even passive smokers are more at risk of snoring and experiencing sleep disordered breathing [4][5].

Some studies have found that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea [6].

Quitting smoking has shown to reduce your likelihood of experiencing sleep disordered breathing [7]. This is because smoking contributes to greater inflammation and irritation in the upper airway which predisposes it to vibration and collapse [8].

Further, a nightcap is also not ideal for healthy sleep. Alcohol causes your muscles to relax – even more than they do normally when you fall asleep. It therefore increases the collapsibility of your airway and heightens the risk of experiencing apneas.

SnoreLab users amongst many others have found that reducing their alcohol consumption yields drastic reductions in their snoring and sleep apnea.

3. Alter your sleeping position

More than half of all obstructive sleep apnea cases are referred to as “position-induced” sleep apnea [9], where the severity of the condition is made worse by back-sleeping.

By sleeping on your back, your mouth has a tendency to fall open. This changes the shape of your upper airway and makes obstruction more likely.

Sleep apnea can therefore be massively reduced by switching to side-sleeping. There are many techniques you can use to make this change – be sure to check out our guide to sleeping position and snoring.

Anti-snoring mouthpieces

Whilst not recommended for severe cases of OSA, a mandibular advancement device (MAD) can be a good option for those with mild to moderate OSA, or those who do not tolerate CPAP.

MADs brings your lower jaw (mandible) forward (or advance it) to tighten the tissues in your airway that are prone to slackening and causing obstruction.

There are many different types of MAD available so finding the right one can be a bit confusing. To get the best quality we recommend getting a mouthpiece custom fitted by a dentist, though this can be quite expensive.

You can still find great quality mouthpieces without paying loads for a custom-made one. Have a read of our guide to anti-snoring mouthpieces so you know what to look out for when buying generic devices online.

If your tongue causes obstruction in your airway, a different type of mouthpiece called a “tongue retainer” can also be effective for mild to moderate OSA.


CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and is a treatment suitable for moderate to severe sleep apnea sufferers. It is the primary method for managing OSA and has a wealth of evidence to support its efficacy.

In most countries, it is only available with a prescription after confirmed diagnosis of sleep apnea.

A CPAP device uses a mask to force air into your nose and throat to keep your airways open.
CPAP does not give you more oxygen. Instead, it introduces a current of normal air that creates positive pressure; this props open your airway to stop it from collapsing.

Many people are fearful of CPAP. Users can also struggle with their devices, experiencing discomfort, claustrophobia and air leakage.

Despite its scary reputation, it’s important to know that CPAP can be a life-saving tool. There are measures you can take to get the most out of it and cope with any difficulties you may have.


SnoreLab’s guide to dealing with CPAP issues

Check out

Performing mouth exercises

Research has shown that exercising the muscles in your airway can have a positive impact on mild to moderate sleep apnea.

These techniques are adapted from speech and language therapy and consist of repeated movements in the tongue, cheeks, jaw and soft palate in order to increase muscular tone.

Several studies demonstrate that patients with sleep apnea can reduce their AHI scores and sleepiness by performing these exercises regularly [10] [11] [12] [13].

You can read about all of the evidence and also learn the 5 exercises we recommend.


Surgery is usually a last resort only when other techniques to manage your sleep apnea have failed.

Whilst there is some research to show that surgery can produce positive outcomes for OSA, there isn’t enough evidence for surgery to be routinely recommended ahead of alternatives like CPAP.

Usually, to be considered for surgery, there are several requirements that will be assessed by an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist first:

  • A diagnosis of severe obstructive sleep apnea, confirmed by a sleep study
  • A clear physical obstruction that can be rectified by surgery
  • Failed treatment with alternative methods such as CPAP and mouthpieces
  • Evidence that the condition is severely affecting your quality of life

There are many types of surgery for snoring and not all are recommended for OSA sufferers.

To get an overview of the surgical interventions available and the important considerations when exploring surgical options, be sure to read our article on surgery for snoring and sleep apnea.


Obstructive sleep apnea can be managed via a number of different means. What is most effective depends on the causes of your condition and its severity.

Regardless of which treatment route you take, many countries have support groups for people with OSA.

These organisations aim to educate and provide support with all facets of OSA.

They give helpful information on living with the condition, provide practical support with CPAP and other treatments, fund and publish the latest research into sleep apnea as well as organising support meetings in person.

How Can SnoreLab Help My Snoring?

Solutions, Using SnoreLab

How Can SnoreLab Help My Snoring?

SnoreLab has helped many thousands of people address their snoring problems. But how?

The app isn’t designed to cure snoring, but instead gives you an understanding of your snoring problem to help you find a suitable solution to improve your sleep.

There are many effective ways to reduce snoring from specialist products to exercises, but different approaches work for different people. By measuring changes in your snoring intensity between nights with SnoreLab, you can try different methods and hopefully discover one which works for you.

Crucially, SnoreLab also allows you to hear what you sound like so you don’t just have to take your partner’s word for it! We find this can be a dramatic revelation which spurs you to take action.

Here, we’ll guide you through getting the most from SnoreLab so you too can take control of your snoring.

What is the Snore Score?

The Snore Score is SnoreLab’s unique measure of snoring intensity. More than simply reporting back a few volume readings, our Snore Score takes into account those different volumes and how long you spend at each level.

The Snore Score is different from snoring percentage which is a measure of the proportion of the night spent snoring. Therefore the Snore Score can exceed 100 – we have even heard cases of users scoring more than 300!

Should I be worried about my results?

If you’ve got a high score, this is no reason to panic.

Snoring is not necessarily harmful, at least physically speaking. If your snoring is putting a strain on your relationship with your bed partner, this is when it can become an issue; you don’t need a Snore Score to tell you this. But when does snoring become damaging to your physical health?

If snoring develops into obstructive sleep apnea, your physical health is at risk. This is because sleep apnea is a serious condition where your airway repeatedly closes whilst you sleep, depriving you of oxygen and putting stress and strain on your heart and other body systems.

Whilst louder snoring is a key sign of sleep apnea, a high Snore Score does not mean you have the condition.

If you are suffering from sleep apnea, you might already be aware of it based on your symptoms. Excessive daytime sleepiness, mood swings, never feeling fully rested after sleep, as well as headaches and sore throats are big red flags.

If you feel physically fine and your Snore Score is high, chances are, you have nothing to worry about.

What’s an average Snore Score?

The median Snore Score for our users is around 25. A score above 50 puts you in the “bad snoring” category, and if you’re above 100 you definitely need to find some solutions!

Everyone is unique, so whilst it’s not best practice to compare yourself to others, we believe a Snore Score of 10 or under is a good target as this is unlikely to disturb you or your partner.

So I’ve got a Snore Score – now what?

SnoreLab gets more effective over time when you have multiple sessions with many Snore Scores to compare to one another.

Your first night’s score is your benchmark. From here onwards, you can see how your score varies from night to night based on the changes you make.

SnoreLab works best when you keep track of anything that you think might impact upon your snoring …

1. Select applicable remedies and factors

If you’ve got some snoring remedies you want to test, or suspect certain factors could be triggering your snoring, make sure to select them at the start of your session.

When trying a new snoring solution, it’s important to see whether or not it works for you. Hopefully, you’ll start to see your Snore Scores declining. If you do, great; you’re well on your way to addressing your snoring problem. If not, this is still a result as it’s also important to know what doesn’t work.

There are things that you wouldn’t normally associate with snoring, like having a shower or bath before bed, or eating a heavy evening meal. When it comes to snoring, little things add up.

In time, you’ll hopefully see patterns start to emerge and you’ll have an idea of what can help.

2. Create your own tags and make notes

There are lots of different things that can help or hinder your snoring, some of them rather strange or unique to you. We don’t cover everything in our remedies and factors list, so why not add your own?

Anything that you think is relevant to your snoring and sleep quality is worth making a note of in SnoreLab, either by creating a custom remedy or factor or writing your own detailed notes.

Notes can be extremely helpful if you are trialling different foods in the evening, noticing certain symptoms, or making adjustments to things like head elevation, mandibular advancement or CPAP pressures.

It can also be useful to make retrospective notes on the night: if you woke up with a sore throat or headache, if you had to urinate multiple times during the night. Also remember to select a rest rating to see if your snoring correlates with how good you feel in the morning.

The more detailed you are, the better picture you can construct of your personal triggers and solutions.

Additional notes made on a session will appear in the Sleep Notes

3. Look at your trends

SnoreLab’s Trends page is where you can really see if the changes you make are helping your snoring or not. This is where all of your sessions, remedies and factors are summarised and collected into one view.

The top chart gives you the option to view your history of all measurements made in the SnoreLab, as well as the remedies you’ve used and the factors you’ve selected.

This screen contains a lot of information, so it’s best to explore it yourself. If you are experimenting with lots of different snoring aids, makes sure to select Remedies and compare the Difference. Red suggests the remedy isn’t working for you, green can mean you are on to a winner!

Here, in our Trends view, an anti-snoring mouthpiece is showing to reduce snoring the most with a wedge pillow coming second. These trends also suggest that nasal remedies probably aren’t working here.

Can SnoreLab tell me if I have apnea?

This is a question we get asked a lot. Some users have discovered sounds in their recordings that indicate apneic events, and have then found them useful in subsequent medical consultations. For many people, this has helped flag sleep apnea they weren’t aware that they had.


Obstructive sleep apnea

Read more


However, it’s important to note that the app is not an automatic sleep apnea detector.

Sleep apnea is defined by apneic events. These are periods during sleep where breathing stops for at least 10 seconds. Whilst this has a typical sound profile which SnoreLab could detect – normal breathing followed by at least 10 seconds of silence and then a gasp or choke – apneic events are not actually defined by sound.

An apnea is identified by measuring both breathing effort and airflow (or lack thereof). A drop in blood oxygen saturation helps to confirm this apneic event. This requires specialist equipment beyond the reach of a consumer app so can only be done in a sleep study.

In SnoreLab, you can search your session for risky sounds using Full Night Recording mode to ensure that every sound and event is captured.

Inconsistent snoring patterns with obvious pauses could indicate risky breathing periods. This was given to us by a SnoreLab user who went on to get a sleep apnea diagnosis.

If you are concerned about sleep apnea, make sure to read our articles on the condition, as well as checking your risk with some screening tests such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and the StopBANG questionnaire.

I don’t know why I snore – where do I begin?

If you have no remedies to test as you simply don’t know where to start with your snoring, SnoreLab’s insights can help.

There are some key causes of snoring and SnoreLab has loads of information on each (select each to find out more):

Every cause has different solutions. So whilst a mouthpiece may work for John Doe, it may not work for you.

Because snoring is more complicated than many of us appreciate, one thing alone might not completely cure your snoring.

To start investigating your triggers and solutions, make sure you’ve ticked the six key lifestyle factors that can help mitigate snoring:

  • Sleep on your side
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Sleep in a dust and pollen-free bedroom
  • Avoid cigarettes and alcohol
  • Stay hydrated
  • Practise good sleep hygiene

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