More than half of all obstructive sleep apnea patients are considered “positional.” That is, they stop breathing twice as many times per hour when they lie on their backs (supine position) than when they lie on their sides.
Sleeping on your back can exacerbate your sleep apnea symptoms because gravity pulls your tongue to fall back against your throat. When this happens the airway is blocked and air cannot enter or exit the lungs.
Positional Sleep Therapy
Positional sleep therapy is a easy practice that can greatly improve the quality of your sleep if you suffer from mild obstructive sleep apnea or snoring. In a lot of cases, simply changing the position in which you sleep can decrease snoring and the number of times you stop breathing per hour.
Many companies sell products designed to keep you from rolling over in your sleep. One effective design is a shirt with a pocket on the back filled with a tennis ball. When you begin to roll over, the pressure of the tennis ball will cause you to roll back onto your side. Some people purchase foam pillows that are inclined to elevate the head and upper body.
Positional sleep therapy effectively treats mild sleep apnea and snoring. However, for patients with more severe sleep apnea, positional therapy is usually not enough. This is where positional therapy and an oral sleep apnea dental device is beneficial. Using treatments in combination may be a more effective way to lessen the severity of your sleep apnea and improve the quality of your sleep.
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