Best Sleep Position for Sleep Apnea

Best Sleep Position for Sleep Apnea

You probably fall right into your favorite position when you curl up under the covers at night without giving it much thought.
However, could one sleeping position be more beneficial to your health than another?
Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be more challenging for people with sleep apnea, a disorder in which one’s breathing stops and starts during sleep. If you want to understand better and help someone with this condition, you may ask:


What is sleep apnea? Is sleeping on the stomach, back, or side better for sleep apnea? If sleeping positions do not work, are there any alternatives to try? Are there products or tools that can help with sleep apnea?
Whether you’re a mother looking for self-care practices to help you support your family or a college student wanting to take better care of your brain, sleep is one of the most crucial areas you must consider.

However, establishing healthy sleep habits can be more demanding for individuals with sleep apnea:
This article discusses the following topics:

  • The most effective sleep positions to reduce sleep apnea symptoms
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask as an alternative if sleep positions do not work
  • How sleep apnea affects sleep

The Most Effective Sleep Positions to Reduce Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Various tools and treatments can help improve sleep apnea symptoms, including breathing difficulties.
For example, a CPAP machine may help maintain a continuous air stream at the user’s optimal air pressure level.
Still, sleeping in specific positions can also help people with sleep apnea manage their symptoms while sleeping.
A Better Sleep Council (BSC) survey showed six common sleep positions in the United States. These positions include sleeping on your back, side, and stomach.
Here are several sleeping positions that can affect your sleep apnea symptoms:

Sleeping on the Left Side

Sleeping on the left side may help improve sleep apnea symptoms by alleviating related conditions.
For example, a study showed sleeping on the left side may help prevent gastroesophageal reflux (GER). GER happens when stomach content comes back to your esophagus, leading to regurgitation and spitting up.
Another research indicates that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) correlates with obstructive sleep apnea.
GERD is a more severe form of GER in which repeated symptoms can cause complications. The study suggests that GERD may aggravate sleep apnea symptoms.

Sleeping on the Right Side

Another obstructive sleep apnea symptom is loud snoring. This kind of snoring may become disruptive, waking a person with sleep apnea multiple times at night.
Consequently, loud snoring may prevent sleep apnea patients from getting adequate rest.
However, sleeping on the right side may improve the body’s air and blood flow, lowering the chances of snoring.

Sleeping on Your Stomach (or Belly)

Gravity pulls your tongue and soft tissue downward when sleeping on your stomach. This situation may help reduce airway obstructions.
However, suppose you cover your face and mouth with a pillow while sleeping on your belly. In that case, blocking your airway may worsen your breathing difficulty.
You must also consider what sleeping positions may worsen your sleep apnea symptoms. For instance, sleeping on your back may cause the soft tissues in your upper airway to resist airflow.

The CPAP-Mask as an Alternative to Sleep Positions for Sleep Apnea

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may help prevent air blockage during sleep.

CPAP machines with masks optimize the pressure inside the airway and keep it open, preventing the airway from getting smaller or closing.

Suppose you have obstructive sleep apnea, and your doctor recommends you use a CPAP machine with a mask. In that case, understanding different mask options may help you maximize your CPAP use.

The appropriate CPAP mask may depend on your sleeping position. You may consider the following factors when choosing your CPAP mask.

  • For side sleepers: Nasal pillow masks and nasal masks are excellent options for side sleepers because they allow users to move more freely while not having many facial touchpoints.
  • For back sleepers: CPAP users who sleep on their backs can choose from various masks because this position easily fits even full-face masks. However, removing your mask in that position is also challenging, and some back sleepers may have trouble with single-strap headgears.
  • For stomach sleepers: Most people can only use nasal pillow masks when sleeping on their stomachs. However, CPAP users who wear nasal pillow masks should check if their actual pillows can accommodate the mask.

For instance, some masks include tube placement along the temples, which might cause air restriction depending on your position and cushion firmness.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Sleep

Obstructive sleep apnea patients may experience breathing disturbances at least five times per hour during sleep.
Moreover, each episode of breathing interruption reduces the body’s oxygen supply, resulting in either partial or total waking.
Furthermore, the brain’s normal processes may experience significant disruptions, leading to severe medical conditions.
If you think you are exhibiting some sleep apnea symptoms, consult with your doctor.

References


Starfish or Freefall? What Your Sleep Position Can Tell You
https://bettersleep.org/better-sleep/sleep-positions/
The Relationship Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in Inpatient Settings: A Nationwide Study
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8980249/
A Novel Sleep Positioning Device Reduces Gastroesophageal Reflux: A Randomized Controlled Trial
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26053170/
The Sleeping Positions for Sleep Apnea Patients
https://www.okoa.org/articles/the-sleeping-positions-for-sleep-apnea-patients
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/obstructive-sleep-apnea

What Triggers Excessive Blood Clotting in the Heart and Brain?

What Triggers Excessive Blood Clotting in the Heart and Brain?

Your body creates blood clots, which is a thicker mass of blood tissue, to help stop the bleeding when you acquire a cut or a wound. These clots consist of blood proteins called fibrin and platelets.

Blood clotting, also known as coagulation, decreases blood loss, which benefits the body after an injury.

Generally, the body disintegrates and eliminates the clots once the bleeding has ceased and healing has taken place.

However, occasionally, blood clots develop too quickly or fail to disintegrate completely, causing the clots to move through the body and restricting or blocking blood flow.

Hypercoagulation, commonly known as excessive blood clotting, is severely dangerous. This condition can cause clots to develop in or move to the arteries and veins of the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, and extremities, which can cause heart attacks, organ damage, strokes, and even death.

Various medications, diseases, and genetic alterations may induce hypercoagulation. Experts divide these factors into two groups: acquired and hereditary.

  • Acquired: This excessive blood clotting has resulted from other disorders or conditions.

The following list includes some triggers of acquired hypercoagulation:

  • Use of hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills
    • Extended bed rest, or plane or car trips
    • Cancer
    • Pregnancy
    • Smoking

Another condition that may adversely affect blood clotting is obesity. For example, a 2015 study showed that obese individuals with trauma are more prone to hypercoagulation compared to their normal-weight counterparts.

Consequently, overcoming obesity may help reduce the risk of excessive blood clotting. Weight-loss procedures such as bariatric surgery may help address this problem.

  • Genetic: This hereditary type of excessive blood clotting is less frequent and is typically due to genetic defects. These abnormalities generally occur in the proteins required for blood clotting.

Moreover, genetic issues can also affect the compounds that dissolve or delay blood clots.

Factors That May Trigger Hypercoagulation

Many conditions and diseases may lead to excessive blood clotting. Some illnesses can increase the likelihood of clot formation in particular parts of the body.

The following list includes possible triggers of hypercoagulation in the heart and brain:

  • Vasculitis: This condition can cause inflammation in the body’s blood vessels. Platelets can form clots by sticking to damaged blood vessels.
  • Atherosclerosis: This ailment occurs when a waxy material known as plaque accumulates inside your arteries. The plaque may rupture over time.  

Platelets also congregate to form clots at the site of the injury.

  • Heart failure: A heart failure occurs when there is damage or weakening of the heart. When the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, blood flow slows, leading to the formation of clots.
  • Diabetes: This ailment increases the likelihood of plaque buildup in the arteries, leading to dangerous blood clots.

Moreover, approximately 80% of people with diabetes have the potential of dying from clot-related causes.

  • Atrial fibrillation: This condition is the most common type of arrhythmia, also known as irregular heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation can cause the blood to pool in the heart’s upper chambers, which can form clots.
  • Metabolic syndrome: This syndrome refers to a set of risk factors that increase your chances of developing heart disease and other health problems, including a greater risk of blood clot formation.

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Other Factors

Below are additional factors that result in excessive blood clotting:

  • Smoking: This habit increases the risk of blood clots and makes platelets more likely to stick together. Smoking also causes damage to blood vessels’ linings, which can result in clot formation.
  • Pregnancy: Due to increased platelets and clotting factors, pregnant women are more likely to develop blood clots. The uterus can also compress the veins, slowing blood flow and increasing the risk of blood clots.
  • Use of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy: These medications can slow blood flow and cause clot formation.
  • Cancer: Several types of cancer increase the proteins that clot the blood.
  • Dehydration: This situation occurs when your body does not have enough fluids. Lack of fluids can cause blood vessels to narrow and blood to thicken, increasing the likelihood of blood clots.

If you have experienced any of the conditions above you may have a higher risk of developing hypercoagulation.

Tracking your health, especially in areas related to your blood measurements such as your blood oxygen level, may help prevent complications, which can lead to hypercoagulation.

When to Consult a Doctor

Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficult or painful breathing
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Cough that shows bloody sputum
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Pain extending to your arm, back, shoulder, or jaw
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of your arm, face, or leg

Furthermore, it is important to consult a physician if you develop the following symptoms or signs on your arm or leg:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain