Posted on Monday, September 13th, 2021 at 7:41 pm
Choosing the best sleeping position is about more than just comfort. If you suffer from sleep apnea, the way you position your body could significantly affect the quality of sleep you’re getting.
Even though you might feel the most comfortable in one specific position and can’t seem to fall asleep in another no matter what you do, your preference for that particular sleep position could be preventing you from getting a full night’s sleep. Additionally, your chosen sleeping position could increase how often and how intensely your sleep apnea episodes occur.
Below are the most common sleeping positions people turn to and which ones you should use to improve your sleep quality and reduce the number of sleep apnea episodes you experience while sleeping.
Sleeping on Your Side
Sleeping on your side is the most recommended position for someone suffering from sleep apnea. You can ease some of the symptoms, such as snoring. An added benefit is that side-sleeping can also manage symptoms of other conditions, such as acid reflux.
When you sleep on your right side, it encourages blood flow and maximizes lung capacity. Your best option is to stretch out your body entirely while you sleep. If you curl up into the fetal position, it could worsen your sleep apnea symptoms or increase the frequency of your episodes.
Sleeping on Your Back
If you sleep on your back, you might experience frequent and severe episodes of sleep apnea. That’s because it is the worst sleeping position you could use. When you lie down on your back, the soft tissue and tongue relax towards the back of the throat, blocking the airway. When the brain doesn’t receive the oxygen it needs, it forces a person awake to gasp for air.
Unfortunately, some people can’t seem to get comfortable in a new sleeping position. If you have always slept on your back and failed at trying a different position, you might be stuck. However, there are some things you could try to make this position more optimal for your quality of sleep.
Be sure to sleep on a firm mattress. A firm mattress can provide the support your spine needs. You should also place a pillow underneath your knees to relieve pressure on your back.
Instead of sleeping with the back of your head on the pillow, turn your head to either side. This can prevent your tongue from relaxing and obstructing your airway. Elevating your head can also keep your airway open.
Even if you’re able to fall asleep in a better position, you might find yourself waking up each morning on your back anyway. You could avoid this by surrounding your body with pillows so you can’t roll over in your sleep.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Positioning your body on your stomach is another good way to manage your sleep apnea symptoms. It’s not the best option, but it’s better than sleeping on your back.
When you’re lying on your stomach, gravity works to pull your tongue and soft tissue down so they don’t block your airway. There’s also less of a chance that you’ll snore if you sleep on your stomach.
You should use a soft pillow and position your head comfortably to avoid placing tension on your shoulder or neck. If your head faces down instead of to the side, you can prevent airway obstruction. Some manufacturers design pillows specifically for stomach sleepers so you don’t have to smash your face into the pillow while you’re sleeping.
Additional Options to Manage Sleep Apnea
You might have tried conventional methods to reduce or eliminate your sleep apnea episodes. You might have even turned to a CPAP machine.
If you’re looking for alternative options, you should consider specific lifestyle changes. The most common include:
- Avoid smoking and drinking – Cigarettes and alcohol exacerbate sleep apnea symptoms. If you eliminate them from your life, you could potentially alleviate your symptoms and improve your overall quality of sleep.
- Lose weight – Obesity can worsen sleep apnea episodes. If you lose fat around your upper airways and maintain a healthy weight, you could avoid airway obstruction while you sleep.
- Exercise – Everyone knows the many benefits of exercise. Managing sleep apnea is one of them. If you increase your physical activity, you improve not only your overall health but also lose the fat that pushes against your upper airways.
If you suffer from sleep apnea and want to discuss your treatment options, do not hesitate to contact Silent Night Therapy. We can review your symptoms to offer a proper diagnosis and advise you about whether oral appliance therapy is right for you.
Call us at 631-983-2463 today for your complimentary consultation.