Beyond CPAP and Mouthpieces for Sleep Apnea

Beyond CPAP and Mouthpieces for Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a serious and potentially dangerous condition where patients repeatedly stop and start breathing throughout the night. When you stop breathing, even for seconds at a time, your brain does not get enough oxygen which can have quite damaging outcomes. The stop and start pattern of breathing akin to sleep apnea significantly disrupts sleep, and can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, metabolic disease, and even brain damage. In this article we’ll review what sleep Apnea is, what causes sleep apnea, and how to resolve sleep apnea, including whether there is a sleep apnea treatment without CPAP.

Sleep Apnea is a serious and potentially dangerous condition where patients repeatedly stop and start breathing throughout the night. When you stop breathing, even for seconds at a time, your brain does not get enough oxygen which can have quite damaging outcomes. The stop and start pattern of breathing akin to sleep apnea significantly disrupts sleep, and can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, metabolic disease, and even brain damage. 

However, the impact of sleep apnea extends beyond these direct complications, suggesting that sleep apnea may also be a symptom of a greater dysfunction within the body's systemic operations. This perspective underscores the complexity of sleep apnea, pointing to its potential role in highlighting underlying imbalances or conditions within the body's regulatory mechanisms. These deeper implications demand a more holistic approach to treatment and management, looking beyond conventional interventions to understand and address the root causes of this disorder. In this article, we’ll review what sleep apnea is, what causes it, and how to resolve it, including whether there is a sleep apnea treatment without CPAP, while also considering the broader systemic implications of the condition.

Two Main Types of Sleep Apnea

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Occurs when throat muscles relax or become otherwise obstructed, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is the most common type of sleep apnea and can cause you to wake up dozens of times throughout the night without even realizing it. 

  2. Central Sleep Apnea: Occurs when your brain does not send your body the signals it needs to breathe. CSA is more rare and generally occurs because of a serious illness affecting your brain stem. In this case, sleep apnea treatment without CPAP is possible, but often more challenging. 

The most common sound associated with sleep apnea is loud, persistent snoring. This snoring is usually loudest when sleeping on the back and might be less loud when sleeping on the side. One of the hallmark signs of sleep apnea is the noticeable cessation of breathing, which can last from a few seconds at a time to over a minute. During these pauses, airflow completely stops despite ongoing effort to breathe. Following a pause in breathing, a person with sleep apnea might suddenly take a deep breath or make a choking or gasping sound as breathing resumes. This pattern can repeat throughout the night, leading to fragmented, poor-quality sleep. The combination of these sounds—snoring, silence, and then a gasp or choke—can be quite distinctive and is a strong indicator of sleep apnea. However, not everyone with sleep apnea snores loudly, and not all who snore have sleep apnea.

What Causes Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, is influenced by a range of risk factors, anatomical traits, and lifestyle choices that contribute to and even cause the condition. One of the primary risk factors is obesity; carrying extra weight, especially around the neck, can block the airway when sleeping. Physical characteristics such as a narrow throat, large tonsils, or enlarged adenoids also play a role in sleep apnea's onset.

Additionally, sleep apnea often occurs alongside various health conditions. For instance, it's frequently seen in individuals with high blood pressure, as the sporadic oxygen levels caused by sleep apnea strain the heart and blood vessels. A two-way link exists between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, with each condition potentially worsening the other. Similarly, heart issues like heart failure and atrial fibrillation are more common in people with sleep apnea, underscoring the condition's serious effects on heart health.

Lifestyle habits contribute to the risk as well; smoking can cause inflammation and fluid buildup in the airway, and alcohol consumption relaxes the throat muscles, both increasing the likelihood of breathing interruptions during sleep.

Addressing sleep apnea effectively requires more than treating symptoms; it necessitates lifestyle changes. Improvements in diet, exercise, and overall daily habits are crucial. Without tackling the underlying issues, such as those leading to obesity or contributing to the risk factors mentioned, managing sleep apnea can be challenging.

How to Resolve Sleep Apnea

First and foremost, if you struggle with sleep apnea and you are overweight, smoke, or drink, please know that there is such a thing as a sleep apnea treatment without CPAP (explained below). 

First and foremost, it is absolutely crucial that you address the preceding habits which lead to sleep apnea. Why is this important? Making alternative decisions that improve your health across the board will help you create sustainable results. Sleep apnea treatments without CPAP on the other hand require more energy on your end. Moreover, using mouthpieces, CPAP, and other external devices only alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea in the short term, which can cause a lifelong dependence. 

This dependency can impact your life in many other ways. If you enjoy camping or traveling for example, it might be challenging to fully immerse yourself in nature and/or being in new places. Relying on manual devices results in more specific sleep parameters and less flexibility. 

CPAP devices also break down frequently, repairing these malfunctions can be expensive and quite challenging to resolve. While we recognize that these devices indeed serve an important function, we believe they should only be used in the short-term to help you get a good night’s sleep while you work on other aspects of your life until you’re no longer dependent on the machine.

If you aren't sure where to start, here are some articles on how to address these deeper issues:

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a sleep apnea mouthpiece. Sleep apnea mouthpieces such as CPAPs supply airways with continuous positive pressure, keeping the airways open throughout the night. Sleep apnea mouthpieces often help people snore less and sleep better. At FP however, we highly recommend against sleep apnea mouthpieces because they fail to address the root cause of the issue, and instead just treat symptoms. If the cause of your sleep apnea is being overweight, focus on losing weight instead of just covering up a deeper problem. Wearing a sleep mask every night is also not at all sustainable. 

(CPAP Device, source: sleeplay)

Sleep Apnea in People With Normal BMI

If you have a normal BMI and you still experience sleep apnea, your tongue, throat and airway muscles may be weak and may not interact well with your pecs, core, and pelvic muscles. When individuals of normal weight work with us at FP, we help eliminate their sleep apnea by resolving their movement dysfunctions. Through improving the tensegrity and intricate connections between various body parts, our client’s muscles and fascia function properly together so that their throat muscles don’t collapse while sleeping. 


Sleep Apnea is a complex and significant health condition that deserves prompt and careful attention. It's understandable and common to feel overwhelmed by its potential impact on your well-being. However, addressing sleep apnea early on can help prevent more serious health complications in the future. We recognize that every individual's journey is unique. It will take honest reflection on your lifestyle choices and troubleshooting with different approaches until you find what works for you.

Even just becoming aware of your own lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise habits, can take a lot of time and energy - sometimes you people aren’t 100% aware of the deeper causes behind your condition. While it might seem challenging, making gradual and sustainable changes can significantly contribute to improving symptoms. Remember, these adjustments are not about quick fixes but creating habits that foster long-term well-being.

It's also worth noting that while devices like sleep apnea mouthpieces offer temporary relief, they might not address the root cause of the condition. If after making lifestyle changes, you're still facing challenges with sleep apnea, it could indicate structural issues within the body that need attention. We focus on enhancing the body's movement and connectivity across myofascial chains, aiming to reduce snoring and alleviate sleep apnea symptoms naturally, without the need for CPAP machines.

Achieving a natural resolution to sleep apnea is a journey that we're committed to supporting you on. If you're looking for alternative treatments and wish to explore how functional patterning (FP) can help eliminate snoring and manage sleep apnea symptoms, reaching out to an FP practitioner can be a great next step. Together, we can work towards a solution that not only addresses sleep apnea but also enhances your overall health and quality of life.

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