The troubles of getting a good night’s rest. Hunting for that peaceful sleep. Hoping not to be woken up at 3 am due to heartburn. These are a few problems that people with sleep apnea have to deal with on a nightly basis. Many options can mitigate symptoms of sleep apnea, but for this article. We will be focusing on the cheapest option: optimal sleeping positions. From sleeping on your right side, left side, stomach, back, or in the fetal position. Let’s find out which position works best for severe to mild sleep apnea.
The positions we sleep in play a huge role in our nightly comfort. Some positions can align your airway in a manner that makes breathing difficult; One can make it easier. Some positions can lead to joint pain or bodily discomfort, while others can be beneficial in healing such issues. Thus, learning about the best positions for your body can help with sleep apnea.
To find the best position, the most important things to focus on are what positions keep your airways open. Your mouth unobstructed, and your joints unharmed. So, let’s start analyzing different positions.
Best Sleeping Position to Stop Snoring
The research is surprisingly clear about the benefits of one sleeping position over all others. That position happens to be sleeping on your side. However, the research on which side to sleep on is somewhat conflicted. Sleeping on your right side can lead to heartburn. But research also suggests that sleeping on your right side can lead to a lower AHI (apnea-hypopnea index) in people with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This effectively means that the patients are more well rested, suffer less airway obstruction. Do not get as many sleep disturbances, but may still get more heart burns.
Thus, it is important to see the pros and cons of sleeping on your right or left side on a case-to-case basis. In general, there are many benefits of sleeping on your side for people suffering from sleep apnea. First and foremost, the airways are not obstructed in this position. Secondly, patients do not snore as much, and they do not strain their neck or back during the night when compared to other positions.
In addition to a lower AHI. Sleeping on your sides may help with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and occasional acid reflux. However, it is important to note that for some people, the right side can make GERD alongside some heart conditions worse. Thus sleeping on the left side will be more beneficial for these people. This is not true for everybody and the right side might be beneficial for another set of individuals suffering from the same illness.
The only manner of figuring out which side works for you is by either trial and error or by talking to your physician. Always make sure to stay in close contact with your physician. As they can inform you early on whether your new position is beneficial to your unique medical situation or not.
Another important thing to note is that sleeping on your sides is not the same as sleeping in the fetal position. Where your legs curl, and your body takes a C-shape.
The fetal position, although widely considered to be one of, if not the most comfortable sleeping positions. That can lead to back problems and neck pains if done habitually. This is due to the spine being bent while in that position and the neck not getting enough support. Although the airways are still open and snoring is minimal. The back and neck pain can lead to even greater sleep disturbances effectively diminishing the position’s benefits.
Bad Sleeping Positions
Having discussed good sleeping positions, let’s start considering some of the bad ones. Let’s see if they can still be beneficial for some specific cases.
Sleeping on your stomach may keep the throat clear with the help of gravity, keep your airways open, and even reduce snoring. However, in this position, your head is placed in a very unnatural position that causes stress on your neck. Your neck is elevated from your back due to a pillow, and it is rotated at an almost 90-degree angle to rest flatly on the pillow.
This can lead to neck pain almost overnight and can reduce your neck mobility, cause neck pain, and even lead to worsening arthritis. In bad cases of stomach sleeping, people can obstruct their airways completely as their faces can be buried in a pillow under the weight of their bodies. This can lead to a lack of adequate oxygen and a bad sleep cycle.
Sleeping on your back can reduce lower back pain but can increase neck pain if a slightly large or small pillow is used. Due to the ability of this position to cause neck pain, it is not ideal. Even more problematic is that it can cause snoring to increase, and due to the elevated position of the neck compared to the body, the airways are not fully open either.
What You Can Do
Sleep apnea can affect different people in different ways. Humans are complicated organisms, and no single treatment or position works equally for everybody. However, knowing what positions are likely to work is the first step in reducing your symptoms.
If your symptoms do not get better from changing your sleeping position, head over to SleepRx and invest in a high-end yet affordable sleep apnea kit, and start talking to a sleep specialist. SleepRx also has free tests and information to help guide you through your OSA treatment.
Keep up with the latest information from SleepRx, so that you can stay informed about various sleep-related problems from OSA, sleep paralysis, narcolepsy, and even insomnia.