|LETTERS TO EDITOR
|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 91-92
Can yoga play a role in improving health-related status of patients with obstructive sleep apnea?
A Mooventhan1, L Nivethitha2
1 Department of Research and Development, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Naturopathy, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Date of Submission||15-Jul-2020|
|Date of Decision||24-Jul-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||10-Sep-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||2-Feb-2021|
Department of Research and Development, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Mooventhan A, Nivethitha L. Can yoga play a role in improving health-related status of patients with obstructive sleep apnea?. Int J Health Allied Sci 2021;10:91-2
|How to cite this URL:|
Mooventhan A, Nivethitha L. Can yoga play a role in improving health-related status of patients with obstructive sleep apnea?. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 12];10:91-2. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2021/10/1/91/308585
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder of upper airway collapse that occurs during sleep and leads to disrupted sleep and oxygen desaturation. OSA occurs due to a dysfunction of upper airway dilating muscles, especially genioglossus that constitutes a major portion of the tongue. To avoid the closure of the upper airway during sleep, a sufficient amount of genioglossus muscle contraction is essential. Thus, in case of genioglossus muscle dysfunction, upper airway collapse occurs due to insufficient muscle contraction. Muscle training exercises or hypoglossal nerve stimulation are commonly employed for those affected by upper airway muscle dysfunction. Yoga practices such as Sukshma Vyayama, Kechari Mudra, and Sheetali Pranayama (where we use the tongue) might help to improve OSA through stimulating the hypoglossal nerve and improving the strength of genioglossus.
For some patients, accumulation of fluid (edema) around the neck could be a therapeutic target because it causes narrowing of pharyngeal airway lumen. Practice of yogic cleansing techniques such as Vamana Dhauti/Kunjal Kriya or a simple saltwater gargling might help in reducing the fluid retention around the pharynx and thus widen the airway lumen.
Increased body weight and reduced lung functions are major risk factors for OSA. Magnetic resonance imaging findings suggest that fat deposited within the tongue reduces the function of the genioglossus muscle. Obesity increases the risk of OSA by directly affecting upper airway anatomy through fat deposition in surrounding structures and reducing lung functions. Evidences suggest that practice of yoga is effective in improving pulmonary function by reducing respiratory rate and improving tidal volume, vital capacity, minute ventilation, maximal inspiratory, and expiratory pressure. Similarly, practice of yoga has shown to improve the pulmonary function of patients with hypothyroidism who are known to be obese. Thus, yoga practices might be useful in improving lung functions in obese individuals that, in turn, might help to reduce the development of OSA.
OSA is associated with diabetes, hypertension, and menopause, whereas practice of yoga has shown to be effective in reducing blood glucose level, blood pressure, and menopausal symptoms in diabetes, hypertension, and postmenopausal women, respectively. Patients with OSA have difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep, and suffers from frequent arousals, nonrestorative sleep, fatigue or tiredness, morning headache, and poor quality of life, whereas practice of yoga has shown to be effective in reducing the time taken to fall asleep, increasing the total number of hours slept,, feeling of being rested in the morning, improving overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency, fatigue, general well-being, and quality of life.
Since obesity and cigarette smoking are also considered as major risk factors for OSA, weight reduction (around 10 kg reduces five events/hour of apnea–hypopnea index) and avoidance of cigarettes were reported to be beneficial in the management of OSA. Practice of yoga is effective in reducing body weight and body fat percentage that helps in controlling obesity, especially central obesity. Similarly, practice of yoga is also effective in decreasing craving to smoke and thus considered as an effective therapy for smoking cessation. These scientific evidences suggest that regular practice of yoga could play a vital role in improving health-related status of patients with OSA. However, studies are required to warrant the effect of yoga in patients with OSA.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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