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Sleep apnoea

Although you might need continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment for the optimal control of your sleep apnoea, there are things you can do to improve your situation while you wait for assessment and treatment, as well as once your treatment has started.

Improving your sleep apnoea

Healthy weight

Between 15 and 20% of people with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) have a normal and healthy body weight, but outside of this group your OSA can be related to being overweight or obese. You should think about lifestyle changes to help you reach a healthy weight. This won't delay your CPAP treatment, but in the long term lots of people with OSA have been able to cure themselves by losing weight, and have been able to stop needing CPAP treatment.

Sleeping position

For some people, OSA has a positional element and is worse when you sleep on your back. There is some evidence that positional training can help. This could be teaching yourself not to sleep on your back, sewing a tennis ball into the back of a pyjama top, or using a commercial device or app on your phone (although this doesn't work for everyone).

Alcohol and sedatives

Alcohol and sedative drugs such as sleeping tablets make sleep apnoea worse. You should discuss weaning off of sleeping tablets with your GP and limit any alcohol consumption to just small amounts or none at all (which can also help with weight loss).


Cigarette smoking reduces muscle tone and may make your sleep apnoea worse.

Good sleep hygiene

Sticking to a regular sleep pattern and following advice on good sleep hygiene can also help. You can see a leaflet produced by the University Health Service here.

Driving with sleep apnoea

The Sleep Apnoea Trust have produced a leaflet on DVLA guidance for drivers with sleep apnoea, which you can read here.

If you have OSA and hold a standard driving licence, the DVLA will require certification that you are using a treatment (such as CPAP or oral devices), and that it is working, every three years. For HGV and PSV licence holders, this needs to be verified every year, regardless of whether you’re currently in a job that uses the HGV or PSV capacity.

Please make sure you attend your follow-up appointment, as if we can't provide the required information to the DVLA it may invalidate your licence and insurance. You will receive a letter four to six weeks before your appointment. Please let us know if the date is inconvenient or you can't attend so we can offer the time to another patient.