Does Sleeping with Head Elevated Help Sleep Apnea?

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea, the first treatment option offered will likely be continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) by means of a CPAP machine.

There can be major issues to tolerating the CPAP method, and if you can’t overcome these, you aren’t totally left in the dark.  What if you need alternative treatments for your sleep apnoea?  Consider what’s next.

Sleeping Position:

The position you lay down in as you are sleeping is another cause of Sleep Apnoea.  Anybody that is suffering from Sleep Apnoea and who lies down horizontally is worsening the whole condition.  When it’s time for bed, what position do you like before you nod off?

Everyone has a preference, it may be on your stomach, lying face upwards on your back, or even curled up with an extra pillow.  Normally, this is just a personal choice and you think nothing of it; however, it can have a significant impact on your quality of sleep, especially for those persons suffering from sleep apnoea.

Does sleeping in a chair help sleep apnoea?

When it comes to what will really help to remedy this sleeping disorder, sleeping on a chair appears to be very useful.  This is because it comes down to the right position for you that can help you to breathe properly.

If you are lying flat out on your back, this is the fastest way to increase your Sleep Apnoea.  Sleeping upright on a chair is much more helpful to this condition.

Sleeping upright with sleep apnoea

You may be someone who snores or has more symptoms when you sleep on your back.  If this is the situation, you may find that sleeping on your side is ideal. This may be accomplished by propping your body up with a pile of pillows.  Another solution has been used.  This involves sewing a tennis ball into the back of a T-shirt.  Wearing this to bed will prevent you from shifting onto your back while you are asleep.  There are also more expensive positioners which work on the same principle.

Sleep apnoea bed elevation

What about changing the elevation of your bed?  Many people have decreased their apnoea when they have the head of their bed slightly elevated.

This can be achieved by using a sleep wedge pillow, which is a ramp of foam that is highest at the head of the bed.  In many cases, an adjustable pneumatic and electrically operated bed can be used to raise the head enough to eliminate snoring and help apnoea.

Newer beds may try to automate these adjustments for you by means of a remote-control system.

Sleep apnoea bed angle

So which position is the best to help get a better night’s sleep when you have sleep apnoea?

Breathing when horizontal for sufferers is difficult.  Lying down creates different breathing conditions for your body, in contrast to when you are upright.  When you’re on your feet or sitting, your airways are pointing downward, leaving breathing and airflow unrestricted.

However, as soon as you get under the covers, your body is forced to breathe in a horizontal position, meaning that gravity is now working against your airways.  Consider various sleeping positions.

The Supine Sleeping Position

Lying on your back is the worst possible position for someone who suffers from sleep apnoea because, physiologically, gravitational force increases the tendency for the jaw, the tongue and soft palate to drop back toward the throat, narrowing the airways.

The Prone Sleeping Position

Sleeping on your stomach may seem like the alternative to the gravity issue, as now, the downward force pulls the tongue and palate forward.  Unfortunately, your mouth and nose end up being either blocked or impaired by your pillow, also your neck has to be twisted to one side to maintain your breathing. Sleeping on your stomach is not ideal as it obstructs breathing.

The Lateral Sleeping Position

Research has suggested that sleeping on your side is the most suited position for sleep apnoea sufferers.

When your body is positioned on the side, the airways are more stable and less likely to restrict air.

Usually though, people start on their side, and then move onto their back, where sleep apnoea is at its worst.

Sleep apnoea position pillow

If you start on your side then find yourself on your back the try using a special pillow.  A contoured pillow or one made with memory-foam which holds its shape can help to guide your body and hold your head in the right position to keep your body aligned in the ideal position.  There are various types of apnoea pillows and sleep apnoea pillows can be used with or without a CPAP machine.

Positional Pillows are pillows used without a machine and they will position the neck in such a way, so as to keep the airways open.  Positional pillow styles include cervical and wedge shaped.

Cervical pillows are meant to be used by side sleepers, and the wedge pillows are used by the back sleepers.  Cervical pillows are also known as contour pillows.  In addition to keeping the airway open by keeping the head and neck in a specific position, this variety of pillow can relieve neck and shoulder pain, and headaches.  While cervical pillows can be used by back sleepers, they are really aimed at the side sleepers, as sleeping on the back has been recognized as making sleep apnoea worse. This can be helped by using a positional pillow called the wedge.

A wedge pillow lifts the upper body when it is in a reclining position. For those who suffer from sleep apnoea, this is the preferred position as a back sleeper. The elevated height counteracts gravity and helps to prevent your tongue from dropping into your throat when snoring.  There are also side, back, and stomach sleeping CPAP pillows. However, as stated previously, a positional wedge pillow should be used if you are a back sleeper.

In conclusion.  You as the suffer will need to find the best method for you and that suits your needs.  Leading to a far better sleep and less sleep apnoea.

 

 

 

 

 

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