Healthy Living

Sleeping Positions for Sleep Apnea

Sleeping Positions for Sleep Apnea

Health conditions that affect the lives of others are many, and sleep apnea and snoring are one of them. Sleep apnea can be devastating to the lives and health of the loved ones of those with the condition. There are millions of snorers, and most of them are not aware that they are suffering from sleep apnea. Although there are symptoms and signs of sleep apnea, doctors recommend polysomnography and overnight sleep studies.

Everyone has their favorite sleeping position. Some prefer a sleeping position that involves curling in a fetal position, while others prefer sleeping flat on their backs. Most people can sleep in different positions any time they want. However, this isn’t always the case for people with chronic sleep issues. Choosing a good sleeping position can offer better night’s sleep and comfort.

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A study conducted by National Institute of Health suggests that those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea sleep better when they sleep on their side. The National Institute of Health evaluated 30 males for sleep apnea syndrome and were compared to apnea plus hypoapnea. All night clinical polysomnography was used. The sleeping positions compared was side and back sleeping positions. 24 males who occupied the major body positions had twice apnea index when they were sleeping in back sleeping position as compared to when they slept on their side. The difference is reliable. Five patients that meet diagnostic criteria for sleep apnea fell within reasonable limits when they slept on their side. This study suggests that sleep position adjustments can treat some non-obese sleep apnea.

Importance of Sleeping Positions

Sleeping position can be important for anyone even those without sleep issues. Those with back or neck pain and those who suffer from acid reflux should sleep on their back.

An article in the Huffington Post suggests that back sleeping position is good for avoiding back and neck pain, minimizing wrinkles, reducing acid reflux, and maintaining perky breasts. However, this sleeping position is bad for snoring. Back sleeping position enable the neck, spine, and head to maintain a neutral position. Steven Diamant, a chiropractor, said that this someone isn’t forcing extra curves into the back when they sleep in this sleeping position. Dr. Olson said that the position is also good for fighting acid reflux. When the head is elevated, the stomach will be below esophagus, and therefore, food or acid can’t comeback up. The sleeping position also helps in avoiding wrinkles since nothing will be pushing against the face. The weight of the breast is supported which help in avoiding sagginess. Dr. Oslon also said that snoring becomes frequent and severe when someone sleeps on the back.

Sleeping on the side position keeps the spine elongated. This sleeping position is best for those suffering from acid reflux. However, Dr. Glaser says that this sleeping position causes wrinkles. Wrinkles will develop due to all the smushing of one side of the face into the pillow. Roshini Rajapaksa, Health Medical Editor, said that this sleeping position leads to breast sagging. Pregnant women should sleep on their left side as it helps in blood circulation. One sleeping in this position should have a thick pillow that can fill the space above the shoulder so that the head and the neck are in neutral position.

Fetal position isn’t recommended. This sleeping position causes back pain. It also minimizes wrinkles and maintains perky breast. When someone sneezes while the knees are pulled up high, and the chin tucked into the chest, that person will feel it in the morning. This is always the case for those with arthritic joints and back. Dody Chang, licensed acupuncturist, said that the curved position restricts diaphragmatic breathing. This sleeping position leads to breast sag and facial wrinkles. People need to straighten out a little and avoid tucking their body into an extreme curl.

Stomach sleeping position helps in maintaining perky breasts. Shallon said that maintaining a neutral position with the spine is difficult in this position. The sleeping position put pressure on muscles and joints which can irritate nerves causing pain, tingling, and numbness. Dr. Diamant explains the soreness felt when the neck is turned to one side. The head will be on one side for hours, and perhaps there won’t be any pain the following day, but soon it will start to ache. Dr. Oslon also said that this position is good for those who snore. Upper airways will be more open when the face is down. Therefore, anyone who snores but doesn’t experience back or neck pain can sleep in this position.

Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

The American Pregnancy Organization suggest that pregnant women should sleep on their left side as this promote better blood circulation to the fetus. Someone can also go for another position if they are concerned with their complexion.

Pregnant women should keep their knees and legs bent and ensured that there is a pillow between their legs. They should try putting a pillow under the abdomen should they find that they are having back pain. Those having heartburn during the night should prop their upper body with pillows. During late pregnancy, there could be shortness of breath and those experiencing this should prop up with pillows or lie by the side.

During pregnancy, it is not recommended to sleep on the back. It can cause issues with breathing, backaches, digestive system, low blood pressure, hemorrhoids and affect blood flow. This happens as the abdomen rest on the intestines and the vena cava and aorta blood vessels.

During pregnancy, the abdomen undergoes physical changes and sleeping on the stomach can be difficult.

The Right Position for You

Most of us wake up in a position other than the one they had chosen when they fell asleep. The right position is all about a good night’s sleep and comfort. If any of these is lacking, then perhaps you need a new position. Finding the right sleep position is easy. Steven Park, a clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology, said that someone would choose a sleeping position depending on how well they breathe. He said that those with small airways during the night tend to sleep on their stomach. He also said that back sleeping isn’t for those with sleep apnea and snorers. Side sleeping keeps the airways open. Sleeping on the left side has advantages as it relieves heartburn. Sleeping on the right worsen heart burns.

Research has shown that sleeping on left-side relieve heartburn symptoms. Right side sleeping worsens it.

There is nothing wrong with experimenting with sleeping positions, but Steven park doesn’t recommend switching from natural inclination unless some have a health condition that calls for it.

63% of US residents sleep on the side, and 14% prefer sleeping on the back. 16% sleep on the stomach. Which is the best? Park said that people should go with the flow and that changing the usual sleeping position can harm the quality of sleep.

Key Takeaways

  • Snoring becomes frequent and severe when someone sleeps on the back.
  • Sleeping on the side position keeps the spine elongated.
  • Fetal position isn’t recommended and it causes back pain.