Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. It can cause daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and increased stroke and heart attack risk. While there is no single “best” sleeping position for sleep apnea, certain positions may help reduce symptoms and improve the overall quality of sleep. This blog post explores the different sleeping positions that may benefit those with sleep apnea.
The Benefits of Sleeping on Your Side
Sleeping on your side is one of the most common sleeping positions recommended for those with sleep apnea. This position helps keep your airway open by allowing gravity to pull your tongue away from the back of your throat. Additionally, it can help reduce snoring by keeping your neck in a more neutral position. If you wake up frequently throughout the night, sleeping on your side may help you stay asleep longer.
The Benefits of Sleeping in an Upright Position
Sleeping upright (sleeping with head elevated) can benefit those with mild to moderate sleep apnea as it helps keep the airway open and prevents snoring. This position also helps reduce acid reflux symptoms if you suffer from GERD. However, it can be uncomfortable to maintain this position throughout the night and may lead to neck or shoulder pain if not done correctly.
Sleeping on Your Back
Sleeping on your back may feel beneficial because there is less pressure on your joints however, this position is not ideal for those with sleep apnea as it causes the tongue and jaw to fall back and block the airway. Additionally, if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this position may worsen symptoms such as heartburn or acid reflux.
What Sleeping Positions Make Sleep Apnea Worse?
Several sleeping positions can worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea. These include lying on your back (supine position) and sleeping with your head tilted back or propped up on pillows (chin-tuck position). All of these positions can cause the airway to become blocked or restricted due to gravity or pressure from the mattress or pillows. This makes it harder for air to flow freely through the throat and lungs, leading to pauses in breathing during sleep.
How Can I Avoid These Sleeping Positions?
The best way to avoid these sleeping positions is by using an adjustable bed frame or mattress to adjust your head and body into a more comfortable position while you sleep. You should also try using a body pillow or wedge pillow to keep your head elevated while you’re lying down so that your airway remains open throughout the night. Additionally, if you’re prone to snoring or have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you should consider using a CPAP machine while you sleep, as this will help keep your airways open throughout the night.
Tips for Finding the Right Sleep Position
Finding the right sleeping position can be difficult, but there are a few tips that may help you find one that works best for you:
- Experiment with different positions until you find one that feels comfortable and allows you to breathe easily throughout the night
- Use pillows to support your head and neck
- Avoid sleeping on your back as this can make breathing more difficult
- Try using a CPAP machine if prescribed by your doctor to ensure optimal airflow while sleeping.
No matter which sleeping position you choose, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions regarding sleep apnea and its treatment options. With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, many people can manage their symptoms and enjoy better sleep each night! If you think you’d benefit from a sleep study, contact us today!