In some cases, the position you sleep in may dramatically impact your ability to breathe and exacerbate snoring and sleep apnea. How do you know if you have positional sleep apnea? What are some of the treatment options that might help you to sleep better?
Determine Your Risk
In order to assess your potential risk of having snoring or sleep apnea that is dependent on position, it can be helpful to have a formal sleep study that documents your sleep position. Over the recording, breathing disturbances can be noted. At the end of the night, a report will be generated that summarizes the data.
Often your sleep study report will include a table showing the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) or respiratory-disturbance index (RDI) based on sleep position.1 These positions include supine (on your back), lateral (on your left or right side), and prone (on your stomach). If the AHI or RDI is normal when you stay off your back, with fewer than 5 events per hour noted, you may benefit from positional therapy. Your sleep specialist will help you to determine if sufficient time was observed in this position to justify this option for you.
Be careful in assuming that your breathing is normal if you sleep on your sides without testing. Many people do sleep better and snore less when they stay off their backs, but it may not completely normalize despite these observed improvements.
Use A Gravity-Activated Position Alarm
The first method is to use a gravity-activated position alarm while sleeping. You should place the alarm on your chest to ease into side-sleeping; and attach the alarm on the side of your arm to cultivate sleeping on your back or stomach. This device emits an auditory signal if an unintended position is held for more than 15 seconds. In a 1985 study on 10 male apnea patients, the gravity-activated position alarm has shown to significantly reduce apneic events by maintaining sleep positions.
Use Pillows For Support
The second method to change your sleeping position is to have two elongate pillows in parallel orientation on the bed. You can attach both pillows with a piece of fabric for a fixed distance —a cloth or a thick string would work well to prevent the two pillows from shifting around the bed. If you would like to sleep on your side, close the gap between the two pillows by using a shorter fabric and sleep in a sandwich-like position. To sleep on your back, use a longer connecting fabric, widening the distance between the pillows.
Both methods are just as effective in changing your sleep position. However, the second method would definitely be an easier, lower-cost DIY that can be made at home to help your sleeping posture. Finally, investing in a good mattress for side sleepers can certainly help achieve a better night’s sleep.
There’s a saying that goes: it takes seven days to build a new habit. In just a week, you’ll be able to improve your daily wellbeing with a new sleeping position!
How to Change Your Sleep Position
Suggesting that you just learn to sleep on your sides may seem pointless as you are, after all, asleep. However, it is possible to learn to sleep on your side and maintain positioning. Often a sharply placed elbow from a bed partner reinforces the behavior.
For those who need a little extra encouragement, there are a number of devices that may be helpful, including:4
- Postural alarms
- Vibrating neckbands
- Special positioning pillows
- Bumper belts
- Modified nightshirts
One inexpensive home remedy is to outfit a snug-fitting T-shirt with a pocket sewn over the spine and a tennis ball placed in the pocket. It may also be possible to use a backpack or fanny pack to accomplish the same thing. Thus, whenever you roll onto your back while asleep, you will become uncomfortable and naturally shift back to your sides. In general, this discomfort won’t be enough to wake you. If you are significantly overweight or obese, you may need a firmer ball, like a golf ball or baseball, to cause enough discomfort for you to shift off your back.
Finally, it might be helpful to raise the head of the bed at night to reduce snoring. This can be accomplished with an adjustable bed, sleeping wedge pillow, or other interventions. Ideally, the head should be raised to at least 20 to 30 degrees.
Resources— Journal of Neuroscience, National Institute of Health, SLEEP Journal
material provided by ReviewThis
How To Sleep On Your Side (The Right Way)
Well, sleeping habits are hard to change, but not impossible. Read on to learn how to sleep on your side (the right way).
1) Make sure your mattress is not too hard
When you sleep on your side, the most pressure is applied on your hips, neck, and shoulders. For this reason, a too-firm mattress can cause pain in those areas. Look for a mattress that is soft enough not to hurt your body, but provides adequate support so that your body doesn’t sink in and adversely impact the alignment of your spine. Try a few products before buying one.
2) Get a pillow of the right height
The general principle for proper spinal support when lying on your side is that your neck, spine, and hips should be aligned in a straight, neutral position. It can be achieved by using a side sleeper pillow that’s high enough to bring your neck to the same level as the other two. If your head sags downwards, it puts a lot of strain on your neck which in turn is the perfect recipe for severe neck pain the next morning.
The firmness of the pillow also matters as a too-soft pillow will just sink under your head with the same result as a flat pillow. So, if you are suffering from neck pain, pick a pillow that is just high enough and firm enough to support your neck correctly.
3) Tuck a thin pillow between your legs
If your top leg (the leg on the side you’re not lying on) is left unsupported, it can sag down and put a strain on your hips and spine. To correct this, put a thin pillow between your knees or get a perfectly designed knee pillow so that some of the stress on your hips and lower back is relieved. A rolled up towel can also be used for this purpose. Bend your legs slightly at the knee but not too far towards your stomach to avoid lower back pain.
4) Pick a side, and train yourself to stick to it
According to a study by the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, sleeping on the left side is better to avoid heartburn. As we all know, old (sleeping) habits die hard, so even if you start off on your side, you may wake up on your tummy or back the next morning.
To train your body into staying in the side position, try sleeping on a sofa for a few nights so that the narrow space will prevent you from rolling into another position. Another trick is to use a full body pillow to keep you in position. Keep track of how you wake up in the morning – if it’s on your side, you’re headed towards success!
5) Watch out for “pins and needles.”
One of the possible downsides to sleeping on your side is that your arm/hand can go numb if you use it as a pillow (on top of your actual pillow). It is because your blood circulation is cut off by the pressure of your head and body weight, causing your arm to “fall asleep” (go numb) and you to wake up from the resulting uncomfortable prickling sensation. To prevent this from happening, avoid putting your arm under your head, and make sure your pillow is providing adequate support for your head.
Before You Go!
Studies show that the most common sleeping position is, in fact, on the side, in a fetal position. UK sleep expert Dr. Chris Idzikowski tells us about his survey that yielded this result, in a BBC article.
Preferred sleeping positions may change over time due to environmental factors or other reasons like pregnancy, injuries, indigestion issues, etc. which prevent you from sleeping in certain positions. For instance, a wound in your back can mean you have to sleep on your side or stomach till it heals.
Of the three major sleeping positions, the side sleeping position is second only to sleeping on the back. So if you find yourself unable to sleep on your back anymore for some reason, switch to your side – not your tummy.
For those of you who are reading this just before bedtime and want to try it out at once, go ahead – make yourself a cup of warm sleepy-time tea, hit the sack and put our tips into practice. Sweet dreams!
Having a good night’s rest is essential for your vitality. Getting up energized and refreshed to take on a new day is possible, not only with coffee but with good sleep. According to the National Institute of Health, whether or not you function and feel well while you’re awake, depends on whether you’re getting good sleep. The lack of sleep or sleep of poor quality could cause you to feel tired and lack alertness during the day. Sleep deficiency can negatively interfere with our daily activities and routines while at work, school, social events, and also on the road; as we would find it challenging to focus on surrounding information to learn and react.
Sleep deficiency is a common public health issue across all age groups. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 7 to 19 percent of adults in the United States reported not getting enough sleep every day. As a result, almost 40 percent of adults claim they fall asleep during the day without apparent reasons, at least once a month.
Now that you know how important sleep is for your wellbeing, you might ask what you can do to improve your sleep.
The answer: changing your sleep position.
Most people sleep on their sides, some on their backs, and a few even sleep on their stomachs. Each person has a unique go-to sleep position that we tend to practice. However, you may want to consider changing it up every so often. Different health issues and body compositions such as pregnancy or sleep apnea suggest specific optimum sleep positions. In such situations, having the right sleeping posture makes a huge difference in our day.
Wrong sleep positions may lead to sleep apnea due to the obstructed airways to your lungs. Other symptoms may include stiff bones, and pain in the neck or back. Depending on your specific health situation, you should choose the best sleeping posture for yourself.
Did you know that different sleep positions have different effects on your glymphatic pathway? Controlled by the brain’s arousal level, the glymphatic pathway expedites clearance waste from the brain. While asleep, the brain’s interstitial space volume expands, resulting in faster waste removal of the central nervous system through the exchange efficiency. In 2015, the Journal of Neuroscience published an article regarding sleeping positions that optimizes our glymphatic pathway exchange efficiency. The study that was performed on mice concluded that side-sleeping clears brain waste more efficiently than back or stomach position. Yes, interestingly enough, humans and animals alike exhibit different body postures during sleep
Let’s dive into the different methods that you can use to train yourself to sleep in a different position. Of course, it might be tough to consciously view yourself sleeping (well, clearly because you would be unconscious while asleep), so the methods we have ensures that you can subconsciously train yourself to sleep in the perfect position for your body.
Changing up one’s sleep position might be a challenge, especially during your first few attempts. As much as it is a habitual routine, changing your sleep position can be done easily. The two methods below can be used to train yourself to sleep in a different position.
Author: Jessica Larsen
Material provided by: BeddingPal