Did you know that a healthy adult breathes 12 to 20 times each minute? While we take a lot of breaths throughout our day, most of us aren’t conscious about the quality of the air we’re breathing in during the day, let alone at night while asleep.
Optimal breathing has a significant impact on our health and well-being. You can organically improve your blood oxygen levels by tweaking your lifestyle and environment. There are a few techniques and habits that’ll help you improve your oxygen levels even while asleep.
If you currently don’t experience any oxygen shortage, it’d still be wise to be proactive. Sleep apnea and snoring, for example, are typical symptoms of low oxygen levels during sleep.
In this guide, we tell you how you can avoid these problems and how to increase oxygen levels while sleeping.
What are Typical Blood Oxygen Levels?
The amount of oxygen in your blood dictates how well your lungs, heart and circulatory system work. Normal blood oxygen levels in a healthy person are 95 percent and above.
Lower readings are common among people living at higher altitudes or those with certain underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, emphysema, pulmonary disease, etc.
Low oxygen levels, often known as hypoxemia, are when you have 90 to 92 percent blood saturation levels. A value lower than this indicates that you may require additional oxygen, or that your lungs are experiencing difficulty functioning.
If your score is less than 90 percent, seek medical help immediately.
How to Tell If Your Oxygen Level Is Falling
Although it’s not uncommon for oxygen levels to fluctuate, some people experience adverse effects of low oxygen during sleep. This should be immediately attended to. Use a pulse oximeter to check your oxygen saturation levels.
The following are the most common signs and symptoms:
- Pain in the chest area
- Breathing problems
- Lightheadedness and confusion
- High blood pressure
- Vision-related problems
These symptoms may appear as soon as you get up, but they may also resurface throughout the day. It’s near-impossible to know of your sleep actions on your own. If you’re worried about not getting enough oxygen while sleeping, contact your primary care physician right away.
How to Increase Oxygen Levels While Sleeping
Here are some tips to increase your oxygen intake during sleep:
Take In Some Fresh Air
Going for a walk or jog during the day is always encouraged. If you have a relatively busy life, it’s recommended that you take a walk at least one time each week to get some fresh air and vitamin D.
Higher oxygen levels can also be achieved by hiking, preferably with someone who enjoys hiking as well.
Improve Your Home’s Air Quality
If you live in an area with good air quality, open your window at night to allow fresh oxygen into the room. But if you’re in an area with poor air quality, use an expert-recommended purifier to remove pollutants from the air.
Additionally, you can also keep houseplants and flowers that increase oxygen production around your bed and house.
Healthy eating and taking a multivitamin a couple of times a week helps you avoid anemia, which can otherwise result in low oxygen levels. Red meat, seafood, lentils, dark chocolate (yes, really!), and dark green leafy vegetables are all high-iron foods and thus recommended.
Low vitamin D levels are linked to low blood oxygen levels; eat egg yolks, fatty fish and red meat to get enough vitamin D. Spend time out in the open under the sun to restore your vitamin D levels.
A well-balanced diet rich in whole foods lowers your risk of becoming overweight. Obesity contributes to asthma, which can lead to breathing problems, snoring, and sleep apnea.
Regular exercise enhances lung and heart health. It’s the heart that pumps both blood and oxygen throughout your body.
Even ten minutes of light walking every day goes a long way in improving your heart and lung functionalities. Your body will then be able to absorb oxygen more efficiently.
Sleep On Your Side
Your breathing may become limited if you sleep on your back, because your lungs are squeezed and pushed back in that position. Sleeping on your side will help you breathe more easily at night.
Stay Away From Alcoholic Beverages
Your throat muscles relax when you drink alcohol, which can lead to snoring and/or sleep apnea.
Take Care of Your Sinus Issues
Consider using a Neti pot and saline solution to clean your sinuses first thing in the morning and just before bed if you snore due to nasal congestion. This will eliminate allergens and bacteria from your system which lowers the risk of sinus infections.
You can also use a Neti pot to clean your nose if you’re unexpectedly exposed to allergies (for instance, if you’ve walked through a field in summer). But we recommend you don’t use it more than three times daily.
Other sinus remedies include anti-inflammatory medicines, an anti-inflammatory diet, over-the-counter allergy medicines, and nasal sprays. Take care to keep allergens away from your sleeping area.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep apnea and/or snoring can also be the result of fatigue. Your throat muscles relax more than they should while you’re sleeping. Getting enough sleep to stay energized throughout the day is perhaps the simplest yet most effective advice.
Pillows Are Your Friends
Lying in a prone position for 30 minutes to two hours can improve your blood oxygen levels. You can try various prone positions, but all of them will require pillows.
Lie on your belly and place two pillows under your waist, one under your chin and the other under your legs.
Lie on either of your sides with a single pillow under your head.
Sit straight (preferably on the bed), stack a few pillows behind you, and prop yourself up. Now recline on the pillows at an angle of 30 to 60 degrees.
Drink Plenty of Water
Stay hydrated by drinking water, cold-pressed juices, caffeine-free herbal teas, coconut water etc. This is because your lungs, like the rest of your body, require appropriate moisture to function properly.
Practice Deep Breathing Exercises
One of the most important and easiest things you can do to improve your oxygen levels is to take deep breaths. A stressful mind and body often don’t breathe as deeply as each should. This can lead to carbon dioxide buildup and lower oxygen levels. So, spare a few minutes each day, pour all your attention and focus on breathing deeply.
It’s obviously recommended that you do your due diligence and understand more about your specific sleeping problem and how to increase oxygen levels while sleeping, but make sure you have your doctor’s approval before you kickstart any proposed remedial practices.
In a nutshell, eating healthy, exercising regularly, breathing fresh air and getting adequate sleep are surefire ways to keep oxygen-related sleep problems at bay.