If you suffer from sleep apnea, before you even try dental devices or breathing machines, you might want to consider some lifestyle changes that could help.
Paramount among these is weight loss. In fact, it is estimated that 70 percent of all sleep apnea sufferers are overweight [source: American Sleep Apnea Association]. Losing just 10 pounds can reduce your risk of sleep apnea by 30 percent [source: Oz]. In many cases, achieving a healthy weight for your height and body type can completely eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.
If you drink or take any kind of muscle relaxers, tranquilizers or sleeping pills, you might want to consider giving them up if you can. The problem is that with any kind of relaxant, the muscles in the back of the throat can relax as well and interfere with breathing. Plus -- as you probably hear with most health advice -- if you smoke, quit. Since smoke wreaks havoc on your respiratory system, getting rid of cigarettes can also improve your sleep apnea symptoms.
Another good idea if you suffer from sleep apnea is to do your best to keep your nasal passages open. If they are routinely stuffed, talk to your doctor about the possibility of using antihistamines, decongestants or nasal sprays to keep you breathing freely through your nose.
Lastly, experiment with the positions in which you sleep. Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft pallet to move back towards your throat, which can restrict airflow, so side and stomach sleeping positions tend to work best.