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When it comes to your sleep quality, various factors can impact how well you sleep. Things like your bedroom’s sleep ambiance, your nighttime rituals, how much you weigh, and even your routine daily habits can affect your sleep quality. One of the biggest factors affecting sleep arises from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This common sleep disorder affects nearly 25 million people in the U.S. So if you live with sleep apnea, you are not alone.

Positional Obstructive Sleep Apnea (POSA)

Sleep apnea often centers around a person’s age, neck size, and excess weight. But did you know that your sleep position can also increase the number of sleep apnea episodes you experience while you are snoozing? You might experience interruptions in your breathing when lying prone on your back but have normal breathing when you are resting on your stomach or side. The good news is, positional obstructive sleep apnea therapy can solve your sleep apnea issues so you can finally achieve the healthy rest your body needs!

Having sleep apnea means you experience brief pauses in your breathing while you sleep. OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and happens when your upper airway’s soft tissue (or tongue) relaxes, blocking your normal airflow. As breathing is paused, your oxygen levels drop, making your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Your nervous system then responds by prompting breathing to begin again and may be accompanied by loud snoring.

What Happens When You Sleep on Your Back

If you have positional obstructive sleep apnea, your sleep apnea kicks in because of the position you are sleeping in. Sleeping flat on your back causes the size and shape of your upper airway to change, and gravity then leaves your airway obstructed. Positional obstructive sleep apnea is typically twice as high than when sleeping on your side or front. The result? You are not only chronically exhausted from getting a poor night’s sleep, but your heart and circulatory system is adversely impacted as well, potentially leaving you with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Chronic low oxygen levels

Unfortunately, if your positional obstructive sleep apnea goes untreated, you are more vulnerable to:

  • Accidents while driving from sleep deprivation
  • Stroke from elevated nighttime blood pressure resulting in hypertension
  • Heart attack from greater arterial stiffness and less heart rate variability
  • Type 2 diabetes from glucose intolerance and insulin resistance

Positional Sleep Therapy

Using positional therapy might involve wearing a device that stops you from rolling over and sleeping on your back. Depending on the type, a positional therapy device is worn around your waist, back, neck or chest. Some of these devices gently vibrate when the sensor catches you trying to roll over on your back, effectively prompting you to shift your position. If you don’t respond by rolling over, the vibration may increase until you shift back onto your stomach or side.

Positional therapy may be combined with using a sleep apnea oral device that keeps your jaw or tongue in its optimal position to lessen the blockage of your airway. A CPAP device (which uses a hose, mask, or nosepiece to provide you with continuous and steady air pressure) can also improve your sleep apnea.

The main concern with positional obstructive sleep apnea is to find what works best for you and then use the therapy consistently! You could benefit from sleep positional therapy to treat your condition and get the much-needed night’s sleep your mind and body need. We welcome you to call us to learn more about diagnosing and treating your sleep apnea symptoms. Call today!

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