In America, an estimated 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea and 80 percent of the moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea go undiagnosed. There are three main types of sleep apnea:
Central Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Complex Sleep Apnea
Depending on the type you're struggling with, you may be able to avoid costly surgery or medical devices if you find a sleeping position that helps you sleep without snoring or breathing difficulties.
Sleep apnea has numerous health risks, some of which can be fatal, so it's important for you to find the best way to remedy your sleep apnea (or your partner's) as soon as possible.
Here are some commonly helpful sleeping positions that may help you get a more restful, restorative night's sleep.
Since sleep apnea occurs due to a blockage of the throat or failure to signal the muscles to breathe (as with cases of central sleep apnea), it makes sense that sleeping on one's side is helpful in keeping the tongue from falling back towards the throat.
However, while each side has benefits, they also have differences.
According to experts, side sleeping on your left side aids in digestion and increases blood flow. It can also help you prevent heartburn and, because of gravity, more effectively move waste through your colon and, aside from those diagnosed with heart disease, left-side sleeping is the number one suggested sleep position by experts.
Sleeping on either side will help reduce the chances of sleep apnea but doing so can also cause back, shoulder, and neck pain if you don't have the right type of mattress or pillows for support.
Most of us will start sleeping in one position and switch up throughout the night. Sleeping on the left side is the most organ-friendly position, reducing the stress put on our internal organs because of their natural positioning.
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The "Log" position is a side-sleeping position where your arms are kept to your sides. This position - enjoyed by 15 percent of sleepers - aids in sleep apnea but also helps prevent neck and back pain by keeping your spine aligned. A pillow between the knees can help reduce pressure on your hips.
Fetal Sleep Position
The most popular among adults, the fetal sleep position is preferred by more than four out of 10 adult sleepers, especially women.
The fetal position is not just helpful in alleviating sleep apnea, but also helps to keep your spine in it's natural alignment, reducing the chances of back or neck pain.
A large percentage of adults end up moving to sleep in the fetal position at one point or another during the night, even if they start with a side sleeping position.
Head-Of-Bed Elevation (HOBE)
Research has found that elevating the head of the bed by a mild elevation of 7.5 degrees, significantly reduced the severity of obstructive sleep apnea (on average, by 38.1 percent) for individuals with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Another study found that elevating the head of the bed by as much as 30 percent patients who are affected by severe obstructive sleep apnea experienced significant improvement.
HOBE can be achieved by purchasing a mechanical bed - such as a hospital or adjustable bed - but can also be reached with the right types of pillows and/or props such as a wedge pillow.
While HOBE has been proven to reduce sleep apnea, it can also result in neck pain without proper support. Further, sleeping upright makes it difficult to change positions throughout the night and spending too much time in one position can result in soreness or even decubitus ulcers.
With the freefall sleeping positions, sleepers lie on their stomach with their arms either tucked under the pillow or up over their heads. Generally speaking, stomach sleeping is not the best position to sleep on as it can cause neck and back stress and pain. However, for those with sleep apnea, it can be a good position to prevent snoring.
A helpful way to prevent neck strain is to push the pillow up higher so your forehead rests on it, and you're able to face the mattress. This will prevent the tongue from falling back towards the throat.
Avoid Back Sleeping Positions
While there are good positions to help with sleep apnea, there are also positions to avoid.
Sleeping on your back increases the chances of snoring and can increase the occurrences and severity of sleep apnea. Unless you intend to elevate the head of the bed, sleeping on your side or stomach is the most effective way to reduce the risks of sleep apnea.
Make Comfort A Part Of Your Bedroom
Sleep doesn't just happen when our bodies are tired. A full, restorative night's sleep can be assisted with small changes that increase the comfort in your bedroom.
Climbing into a nice, soft, fresh-smelling clean bed improves sleep quality. Experts report that 73 percent of people sleep better on fresh, clean sheets.
No Invasive Lights
Make sure you have electronics turned off as these distractions can wreak havoc on a good night's sleep.
Incorporate White Noise and/or Diffusers
White noise is one way that many people find comfort as they go to sleep. It prevents them from waking up to small disturbances (such as a pet or passing cars) by filtering out the sounds. Diffusers with calming scents or oils can also assist in helping you sleep peacefully.
When No Sleep Position Helps
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try or how much we spend on quality mattresses and pillows, it may become necessary to seek assistance from your doctor or try alternative options because lack of sleep due to sleep apnea doesn't only pose health risks but can put a strain on couples' relationships.
A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP) is often used to help those suffering with sleep apnea. While it's effective for many people, it is not without risk and, at times, can even make sleep more difficult. Further, CPAP therapy requires a doctor's prescription.
A Mandibular Adjustment Device (MAD) is a non-invasive, simple, and less-expensive way to alleviate snoring associated with sleep apnea. Since you do not need a prescription to try a MAD, it's important to do your research on what type of device is best for you because some MADs are not effective and can be quite uncomfortable.
The VitalSleep Mandibular Advancement Device has a patented design that allows sleepers to gradually increase the amount of adjustment of the lower jaw bone (mandible), to prevent the blockage of the throat. Plus, since it comes in two sizes - male and female - it is much more likely to fit comfortably than other MADs on the market.
If you're ready to get a good night's sleep without the interruption of snoring, check out our FAQ or contact us today with any questions. Ready to try it now? Place your order today!