How to Prevent Altitude Sickness

The body acquires oxygen through the lungs during the process of respiration. As you inhale, the oxygen you take in is distributed through the bloodstream and delivered to each cell. The oxygen concentration in the blood needs to be constant and should be maintained at 95 to 100 percent saturation to ensure that each cell receives enough oxygen.

But since breathing patterns change during sleep, the concentration of oxygen in the blood will also change. In some severe instances, blood oxygen levels may fall below 90 percent, which is critically low. This occurs due to several factors, which will be discussed below, along with tips on how to increase oxygen levels while sleeping to maintain cellular homeostasis.

Human Breathing Patterns During Sleep

The human body typically goes through four stages, divided into REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM during sleep. As the body moves through each stage, our breathing patterns change and may become irregular. 

The first three stages of sleep are non-REM stages where breathing decreases by about 15 percent. During the REM stage, our breathing becomes deeper, heavier, and more erratic. The intervals between inhalation and exhalation may become shorter or longer at different points, which is normal.

But in some cases, the pauses may become longer while the intervals may become shorter. This could result in less oxygen intake, decreasing the amount of oxygen being circulated in the blood. When the amount of oxygen reaches critically low levels, the rest of the body cannot function properly – a condition known as sleep-related hypoxemia.

What is Hypoxemia?

Hypoxemia is a term that describes a condition where the oxygen in the blood is at below-normal levels. As mentioned previously, blood oxygen levels typically remain between 90 and 100 percent. Hypoxemia occurs when these levels fall below 90 percent. As a result, the cells in the body don’t receive enough oxygen, causing them to eventually shut down. This can result in brain damage and cardiac failure and can manifest as a state of altered consciousness, seizures, arrhythmias, and labored breathing, among others.

Hypoxemia is a result of decreased oxygen intake, which is caused by numerous factors spanning health-related and environmental factors. Health-related factors that cause slow oxygen intake include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, lung and heart disease, asthma, and sleep apnea. In addition, certain medications can also cause slow oxygen intake.

There are numerous environmental factors that can influence the amount of oxygen breathed in during sleep, which include smoke inhalation, decreased air pressure, staying in high altitudes, and flying on a plane.

Diagnosing Sleep-Related Hypoxemia

Hypoxemia is diagnosed by your doctor by determining the amount of oxygen currently flowing in the bloodstream. There are two ways in which it can be measured:

  • Oximetry. The most common method of measuring blood oxygen levels is by using a small, clip-on device that is placed on the patient’s index finger or earlobe. The device measures the saturation level of the blood by measuring the amount of light absorbed by oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
  • Arterial Blood Gas Study. In a more invasive procedure, blood is drawn out of an artery using a syringe, which is then analyzed using special equipment to measure the amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood. 

Once the results of each test have been obtained, your doctor will then determine whether you have hypoxemia and will prescribe how to raise oxygen levels in the blood through supplemental oxygen.

How to Increase Oxygen Levels While Sleeping

Follow these tips that determine how to raise oxygen levels in the blood:

Pay Attention to Your Eating Habits

Your eating habits can also influence your body’s ability to take in and transport oxygen. For instance, if you eat iron-rich foods like shellfish, green leafy vegetables, red meat, lentils, and even dark chocolate, you can encourage the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. Meanwhile, foods like egg yolks, red meat, and fatty fish are rich in vitamin D, which is linked to increased respiratory function and high blood oxygen levels.

Sleep On Your Side

Lying on your back presses down on your lungs, resulting in labored breathing. This is why some people snore more loudly when sleeping on their back. You can improve your breathing as you sleep by sleeping on your side.

Deal With Nasal Congestion

Snoring can be a sign that obstructions are present in your nasal passages, which can also restrict your breathing and diminish your oxygen intake. If your nose is feeling congested, you can use a saline solution before bed to clear out your nasal passages for better quality sleep.

Provide Supplemental Oxygen

Learning how to increase oxygen levels in a room is a great way to provide supplemental oxygen. Providing supplemental oxygen for patients with hypoxemia has been proven to relieve symptoms of low oxygen in the blood and improve patients’ quality of life. Improving the oxygen levels inside the home, for instance, can help relieve symptoms of low oxygen, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness. This can also result in better quality sleep, increased alertness, and a better mood.

Here’s how to increase oxygen levels in a room: consider keeping house plants that are known for not needing much sunlight exposure so you can keep them indoors. But in high-elevation areas where oxygen levels are severely low, you can install an oxygenation system that can help deliver a steady oxygen supply in your room for better quality sleep.

Improved Quality of Life Through Expert Oxygen Control Systems

A good night’s sleep is hard to come by in the mountains when you’re laboring for every breath you take due to the thin air. Installing an oxygen control system helps you maintain a comfortable environment even in the mountains, similar to those at sea level. Altitude Control Technology relies on its domain expertise and extensive experience to deliver a unique oxygenation system that delivers the type of performance you need in your mountain home.