Everyone usually has their favorite sleeping position as we get comfortable falling asleep. But for those with sleep apnea, finding a position to sleep in can be quite the challenge, especially if you have a CPAP machine.
You don’t really realize the effects your sleeping position can have over time, but there is so much more to it than we realize. Our sleeping positions have an effect on how we breathe through the night, and your favorite sleeping position can either improve or, unfortunately, worsen your sleep apnea.
Sleeping With Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is one of those most common sleep disorders and affects 3-7% of men and 2-5% of women. When you have an episode of sleep apnea, your brain is deprived of oxygen, which may end up causing short and long-term effects on your health. This is why finding the best sleep positions for your sleep apnea is so important in order to avoid any of the negative consequences of the disorder.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, where your upper airway is partially or completely obstructed when you are asleep. The muscles located in the back of your throat relax while your chest muscles begin to work harder in order to open your airway.
Your brain will signal that your breathing is obstructed and wake you up, gasping for air. However, since it is such a brief moment, you likely do not remember it causing any disturbance to your sleep.
Sleep Positions and Sleep Apnea
There are a few ways you can sleep on your side, back, and on your stomach. While sleeping positions can help with the symptoms of your sleep apnea, it is still important to check with your doctor or sleep center specialist about other treatments available, like sleeping with a CPAP machine or looking into surgery.
Let’s look at the best sleeping positions and how they affect your sleep apnea.
Sleeping On Your Side
Whether or not you feel more comfortable sleeping on your right or left side, side sleeping, in general, has been seen to alleviate issues like insomnia and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Both of these conditions can aggravate your sleep apnea symptoms.
Sleeping on your left or right side is the most effective sleep position that helps control sleep apnea, as it encourages blood flow, reduces snoring, and calms your sleep apnea. In addition, research has shown that left-side sleepers experience much less frequent obstructive events during their sleep which is good news for side sleepers with sleep apnea.
Gravity is on your side when it comes to stomach sleeping as it pulls the tongue and soft tissue forward, reducing airway obstructions. This being said, covering your face and mouth with a pillow when sleeping on your belly can still cause issues for those who suffer from severe sleep apnea, so you should use caution when sleeping in this particular position.
If you deal with any neck problems, this position may put unnecessary strain on your neck, creating another host of issues that affect your health and rest. If you do sleep in this position, make sure you choose the right pillows for support and posture.
The last sleep position you want to choose when suffering from sleep apnea is sleeping on your back (also called supine sleeping). This position is not generally recommended because it makes you more prone to snoring and experiencing sleep apnea.
As opposed to sleeping on your stomach, gravity works against your body, causing the soft tissues in your upper airways to crowd and create resistance. With this positional obstructive sleep apnea, your tongue relaxes back and makes your sleep apnea even worse.
If you are a back sleeper, try getting a better pillow and experiment with side sleeping. It may take some time to train yourself to get used to one of the other positions we have mentioned, but you may even find that it is more comfortable with time.
Let DreamZz Sleep Center Help You Sleep Better
Both how we sleep and how much we sleep have direct impacts on our health and the quality of our everyday life. If you or a loved one is suspected to have sleep apnea, take it seriously and find a doctor or sleep center that can help you find treatment for your symptoms.
You don’t have to be stuck with one position to sleep in. With education, effort, and positional therapy for sleep apnea, you can train yourself to sleep differently for fewer obstructions and get better rest.
At DreamZz Sleep Center, we help you start treatment as soon as possible, giving a consultation and sleep study within one or two weeks of your initial inquiry. We take sleep seriously and want to help you get the most out of a full night’s rest.
Contact us today to book an appointment.