B Can Your Sleep Position Affect Your Sleep Apnea
Okay, this is where we need to talk about the two main types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a mechanical problem. It happens when muscles in the throat relax during sleep causing the airway to collapse and interrupt breathing.
Central sleep apnea is a communication problem. It happens when the brain fails to send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Most people suffer from OSA and this is who this article is focused on.
Its long been known that sleeping on your back can make sleep apnea worse, presumably because the tongue relaxes back towards the throat leading to even more obstruction.
Did you know that over half of OSA sufferers are position-dependent? Their symptoms are worse if they sleep on their back.
One of the treatments for them is positional therapy, an approach which encourages people to sleep more on their sides so that the throat is less obstructed and they get more restful sleep.
In studies, it has been shown to reduce symptoms using special sleep-positioning pillows or vibration alarms attached to the neck or chest. Patients stay on their side more, have fewer breathing disruptions, and sleep better.
So, while there isnt any direct evidence that something as simple as sleeping upright in a chair can help, theres a lot of research that says your sleep position matters.
E Any Downsides If You Sleep Upright With Sleep Apnea
Like anything else, there are tradeoffs if you sleep upright.
While some animals are able to sleep standing upright, the human body appears to be adapted to sleep best while laying down.
Some of the potential downsides from sleeping upright include:
- You may not be as comfortable as you would be in a bed
- You may not sleep as deeply as you would if you were laying down
- Body aches and pains
- Increased risk for deep-vein thrombosis, a blood clot in a limb that can occur if your arms or legs are bent and you are motionless for a long time.
So, depending on your situation, sleeping upright might be best used as a short-term remedy.
How To Treat Sleep Apnea
The gold standard for treating sleep apnea is the continuous positive airway pressure therapy machine. The CPAP includes a mask or other device that fits over your nose or your nose and mouth. A tube connects the mask to the machines motor and blows air into the tube. This increases air pressure in your throat so your airway doesn’t collapse when you breathe in.
To lessen the severity of sleep apnea, try:
- Changing your sleep position so you’re not laying on your back
- Losing weight if youre overweight
- Avoiding alcohol or medications that make you sleepy
- Trying nasal sprays or allergy medications to relieve congestion
- Stopping smoking
- Using a mouthpiece or dental appliance for mild cases, which can help keep your airways open
- Undergoing surgery, although Dr. Lance stresses that avoiding this step if at all possible is a priority
We are bombarded by social media and other communication outlets about many things, including sleep apnea, Dr. Lance says. That’s a positive. This has led to many more people coming to us asking about their sleep quality concerns. It has increased medical knowledge and improved treatment and testing.
Recommended Reading: Fitbit For Sleep Apnea
D Three Ways To Sleep Upright With Sleep Apnea
Before you try this strategy, you should check with a doctor to see if it makes sense for your sleep apnea type.
You should also keep in mind that the research suggests head elevation will be most useful if:
- youre overweight
- severity of your OSA symptoms are mild to moderate
- you slightly elevate your head
And it may be useful for situations when you are unable to sleep on your side, the traditional way of treating position-dependent sleep apnea.
Nonetheless, here are some tricks to elevate your head:
Tips To Improve Health And Comfort
Choose a CPAP device with a built-in humidifier. Most devices now include a built-in humidifier, which helps prevent the dryness and skin irritation that can sometimes occur.
If youre experiencing nasal congestion, you may prefer a full-face mask over a nasal or nasal pillow mask. Also be sure to keep your humidifier tank full, keep your tubing and mask clean, and make sure your filter is clean. Nasal sprays and antihistamines also help.
Keep your device clean. Its very important to clean your CPAP hose, nosepiece or mask, and humidifier tub regularly, as a dirty CPAP device can cause infections and even pneumonia. Your sleep doctor and device manufacturer will give you detailed cleaning instructions.
To ensure maximum comfort, ask your doctor about soft pads to reduce skin irritation, nasal pillows for nose discomfort, and chinstraps to keep your mouth closed and reduce throat irritation and dry mouth.
Mask the sound of the CPAP machine. Most new CPAP devices are quiet, but if the sound of your CPAP machine bothers you, try placing it beneath the bed and using a sound machine to muffle the noise.
Don’t Miss: Does My Apple Watch Track My Sleep
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Blocked or narrowed airways in your nose, mouth, or throat can cause sleep apnea. Your airways can become blocked when your throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep.
Sleep apnea can also occur if you have large tonsils or adenoids. During the day, when you are awake and standing up, these may not cause problems. But when you lie down at night, they can press down on your airway, narrowing it and causing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can also occur if you have a problem with your jawbone.
In children, a common cause of sleep apnea is large tonsils or adenoids.
Sleep apnea is more likely to occur if you are overweight, use certain medicines or alcohol before bed, or sleep on your back.
How Long Does It Take To Recover
Its possible to recover from sleep deprivation by sleeping more.
You can start by going to bed early rather than sleeping in late. Its also a good idea to get at least 7 to 8 hours of rest each night. This will help your body get back on schedule.
It can take days or weeks to recover from a bout of sleep deprivation. Just 1 hour of sleep loss requires 4 days to recover.
The longer youve been awake, the longer it will take to get back on track.
Don’t Miss: How Does Fitbit Track Sleep
Make Sure Your Mask Fits Correctly
When it comes to CPAP therapy, one size does not fit all. Its very important to get a mask that fits correctly and is comfortable for you.
There are many different types of masks available, including ones that cover the full face and ones that cover only the nose. Masks also come in a range of sizes, to accommodate different face shapes. There are also options that allow you to sleep in any position, accommodate glasses, and stay on if you toss and turn.
Be sure to discuss your options with your doctor and schedule follow-up appointments to check the fit, evaluate your treatment progress, and adjust or switch your mask if necessary.
What Is Rest Apnea
Sleep apnea is a problem that creates a person to quit taking a breath while theyre asleep. Fatone, heart problems, as well as stress and anxiety can all play a role in the seriousness of sleep apnea. The most typical form of therapy for rest apnea is a CPAP or BiPAP maker which assists control breathing throughout sleep. Inspire Sleep Apnea Device Reviews
Rest apnea, additionally recognized as non-restful sleep, is a problem characterized by air passage obstruction. The air flow is obstructed by either the tongue falling back to the throat or the muscle mass in the throat relaxing during rest.
When you are really feeling nervous, your blood pressure will rise, as well as breathing comes to be much more superficial. This can result in hyperventilation, gasping for air, difficulty breathing, and heart palpitations.
Don’t Miss: How Do Beta Fish Sleep
Sleep Apnea Exposes You To Occupational Hazards And Injuries
Once again, this can be attributed to the diminished alertness and attention caused by excessive sleepiness from sleep apnea. Since oxygen is needed by brain cells, lack of oxygen can kill them thus, sleep apnea also affects peoples intelligence, memory, concentration, and mental agility.
For workers needing more technical alertness in their field, like engineers, machine operators, commercial drivers, doctors, nurses, etc., untreated sleep apnea not only jeopardizes their own lives, it can also be harmful to the people they are servicing.
Are There Different Types Of Sleep Apnea
There are three types:
Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common type. It happens when your airways repeatedly become completely or partially blocked during sleep, usually because the soft tissue in the back of your throat collapses. During these episodes, your diaphragm and chest muscles work harder than normal to open your airways. You may start to breathe with loud gasps or jerk your body. This can affect your sleep, lower the flow of oxygen to your vital organs, and lead to abnormal heart rhythms.
Central sleep apnea. With this type, your airway doesnât become blocked. Instead, your brain fails to tell your muscles to breathe because of issues in your respiratory control center. Itâs related to the function of your central nervous system. Central sleep apnea happens most often in people with neuromuscular disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , those whoâve had a stroke, or in people with heart failure or other forms of heart, kidney, or lung disease.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome. This condition, which doctors also call treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, happens when you have both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Don’t Miss: Va Sleep Disturbances
Sleep Apnea Can Cause Cognitive Decline
Ignoring your daytime sleepiness, brain fog, and forgetfulness could be causing long-term damage to your brain and body, especially if your symptoms are linked to obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep-related condition characterized by episodes during sleep when breathing stops and intermittently deprives your brain of oxygen. This is called hypoxia. Over time, the lapses in breathing while sleeping can lead to excessive daytime drowsiness and impaired cognitive functioning. If left untreated, studies show the disorder affects brain structure and function, and can cause strokes, depression, headaches, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimers Disease.
The harmful effect of disturbed sleep on brain health is particularly important for older adults presenting obstructive sleep apnea , according to a report in the American Thoracic Societys Family of Journals.
OSA is common in adults aged 65 and older, but often goes undiagnosed because it is not something physicians suspect is behind cognitive impairment. Up to 90% of patients with OSA go undiagnosed. Unfortunately, once it is identified, cognitive decline has already begun. Even still, treating OSA can improve a patients quality of life and prevent further neurodegenerative decline.
Early detection is key
The repeated lapse in breathing also prohibits a good nights rest and prevents the brain from experiencing the critical REM sleep it needs to remodel, heal, and remove toxic waste.
Lifestyle Treatments For Sleep Apnea
For mild cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may be enough to treat the issue. Your doctor will let you know if thats the right starting point. But even if you are prescribed a medical treatment, the following changes can help reduce your sleep apnea episodes and improve your sleep.
Lose weight. If you are overweight, losing weight can have an enormous impact. While it is usually not a total cure, it can reduce the number of breathing episodes you experience, reduce your blood pressure, and decrease daytime sleepiness. Even a small amount of weight loss can open up your throat and improve sleep apnea symptoms.
Exercise. Even when exercise does not lead to weight loss, it can decrease your sleep apnea breathing episodes and improve your alertness and energy during the day. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, and yoga are all good choices for strengthening the muscles in your airways and improving breathing.
Sleep on your side. Lying on your back is the worst position for sleep apnea, as it causes the jaw, tongue, and other soft tissues to drop back toward the throat, narrowing your airway. Sleeping on your stomach isnt much better, since lying face down or twisting your head to the side both obstruct breathing. Lying on your side, on the other hand, helps keep your airway open. If you find side sleeping uncomfortable or you tend to roll on to your back after youre asleep, countered side pillows or body pillows may help.
Also Check: Vivofit Sleep
Sleeping Upright With Sleep Apnea What We Know And 3 Things To Try
Its no surprise people are wondering about sleeping upright with sleep apnea since symptoms are worse for many patients if they lay on their back.
Recent research suggests that elevating your head may indeed help improve symptoms.
Depending on your sleep apnea type, symptom severity, and other factors, you have options simple tricks to elevate your head and new devices designed to keep you from sleeping on your back.
What It Is Its Risk Factors Its Health Impacts And How It Can Be Treated
Sleepfoundation.org is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Sleep apnea is a condition marked by abnormal breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea have multiple extended pauses in breath when they sleep. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the bodys supply of oxygen, leading to potentially serious health consequences.
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States. It can affect children and adults and people of both sexes, although it is more common in men.
Because of sleep apneas prevalence and potential health impact, it is important for people to be aware of what sleep apnea is and to know its types, symptoms, causes, and treatments.
You May Like: Do Bettas Sleep
When We Snore The Noise Comes Mostly From The Nose
FALSE. When youre awake, the muscles in your throat are engaged to keep your airway open. When you fall asleep, those muscles relax, and the soft tissues in the mouth and neck tend to collapse inward, creating an obstruction to the flow of air. To overcome the reduced flow, you may unconsciously try harder to breathe. Snoring is the sound of that soft tissue fluttering in response to airflow. The nose is a stiff structure, so it doesnt vibrate. However, nasal congestion or deformities can cause mouth breathing and worsen snoring.
Why Do I Gasp For Air Randomly
The desperate gasping for air is usually a symptom of the heart no longer circulating oxygenated blood, or theres an interruption of lung activity thats reducing oxygen intake. It can often signal that death is imminent. If you see someone struggling to breathe, call your local emergency medical services immediately.
Recommended Reading: How To Change Sleep Sensitivity On Fitbit Charge 2
Treatment For Cchs/central Sleep Apnea
Because Central Sleep Apnea is often the result of another medical condition, the primary condition is typically treated first, in the hope that it will correct the breathing difficulties. When this is not possible, an Avery Breathing pacemaker may be an alternative to other forms of ventilation.
The Avery Biomedical Diaphragm Pacing System is a helpful option for patients with Central Sleep Apnea. The diaphragm pacing system is implanted surgically and stimulates the phrenic nerve which signals the diaphragm to contract at a normal rate. Because patients with Central Sleep Apnea never know when the apneas will occur, the pacemaker is consistently helpful, removing the risk of a lack of oxygen.
For more information about how the pacemaker can help you breathe normally and to find surgeons near you, call us at or fill out our online request form by clicking on the button below.
How Is Sleep Apnoea Treated
Treating sleep apnoea will help you sleep more easily, and may reduce the risks.
For people with mild sleep apnoea, sleeping on your side , losing weight and decreasing the amount of alcohol drunk during the evening may be all that is needed.
Other options may help, including:
- avoiding sleeping tablets, which can make sleep apnoea worse
- quitting smoking if you smoke
- using nasal decongestant sprays, if nasal congestion bothers you
For people with moderate to severe sleep apnoa, more active treatment may be required, including:
- an oral appliance fitted by your dentist, such as special mouthguards or splints to wear while you are sleeping this usually works well for mild sleep apnoea
- a continuous positive airway pressure pump, which feeds pressurised air into a face mask to hold your throat open while you sleep this is often used for moderate to severe sleep apnoea
- surgery, if you have severe sleep apnoea
If you think you may have sleep apnoea, see your doctor. You may be referred to a sleep disorders specialist and asked to participate in an overnight sleep study. This may be done at home or under supervision in a sleep laboratory. Please consult your doctor or a sleep clinic for further information.
You May Like: Betta Fish Sleep
What Are The Symptoms
The main symptoms of sleep apnea that you may notice are:
- Not feeling rested after a night’s sleep.
- Feeling sleepy during the day.
- Waking up with a headache.
Your bed partner may notice that while you sleep:
- You stop breathing.
If you have sleep apnea, you also may not be sleeping as well as you could. If you feel sleepy during the day and it gets in the way of the normal things you do , it’s important to talk to your doctor. Be safe. Do not drive while you are drowsy.