I believe you already have some sort of understanding about sleep apnea, sometimes spelled as sleep apnea as well. Still, let’s get a reminder of things first before getting to know the best ways to sleep to avoid sleep apnea.
What Is the Best Way To Sleep To Avoid Sleep Apnea?
In short, sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes a pause in breathing and periods of shallow breath while we sleep. The length of the pauses varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, and this frequents a number of times during the night for the affected people. In its simplest form, sleep apnea results in snoring. But if the disorder borders on becoming serious, it causes a lack of quality sleep with other physical severe consequences.
As per sleep scientists, a person can have three versions of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) happens for the relaxation of muscles while we sleep. This relaxation of muscles propels the soft tissue in the back of our throats to be broken down, and as a result, the upper airway is blocked and causes a reduction or total stoppage inflow of the air even though we keep trying to breathe. The pauses in breathing last a minimum of 10 seconds but may continue to persist for a minute or longer.
This phenomenon ensues in a decrease in blood oxygen saturation, sometimes causing a drop of 40% or more in severe cases. When this takes place, our brain responds by waking us up briefly to reestablish normal breathing. This pattern can be looping back and forth hundreds of times, and ultimately we experience the fragmented quality of sleep.
On the other hand, Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is simply the malfunction of basic neurological controls for breathing. The definition may sound simple, but if it lasts for longer than it usually does, the person experiencing CSA may even die, though it is unheard of. Usually, a person having CSA misses one or more breathing cycles. As a result, the level of oxygen drops (hypoxaemia), and the concentration of carbon dioxide rises to a level that is higher than normal (hypercapnia).
So that leaves us with apnea that is a combination of OSA and CSA. Unfortunately, people show the symptoms of both cases when they are treated for OSA by the CPAP method. The range of percentages for people who are affected by mixed apnea is from 0.56% to 18%.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause a plethora of problems for us. Let’s have a look at a few of them:
- As the body is deprived of oxygen while sleeping, symptoms of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can get worsened for suffering in sleep apnea.
- Sleep apnea is more likely to induce insulin resistance – a condition when cells fail to respond to the hormone insulin – as a result, the level of blood sugar can rise, and you might develop type2 diabetes.
- Sleep apnea is said to have been associated with metabolic syndrome.
- A cluster of risk factors prompting heart diseases, including high blood pressure, high levels of LDL cholesterol, excessive blood sugar, etc. can be alleviated by sleep apnea.
Along with the above physical risks, sleep apnea is likely to cause symptoms pertaining to digestive, circulatory and cardiovascular, central nervous system, and reproductive functions as well. It will also leave you feeling dry or sore-mouth in the morning, headaches, having difficulties in concentrating, or irritability throughout the day. So, it is a must that we should treat sleep apnea as soon as we are sure that we are suffering from it.
The Treatment Through Adjusting Sleeping Positions
Now that we know what we are dealing with, let’s focus on the simplest way of preventing sleep apnea other than using medications or other methods like CPAP, ASV, other airway pressure devices, supplemental oxygen, oral applications, etc.
Before going into the details, let me remind you about the first step required to ensure quality sleep – you must get the best mattress and the best pillow you can afford. Even if you are sharing or want something to enjoy while enjoying the works of your favorite author – you should opt for the best bunk bed mattress or bean bed mattress.
Even the simplest notion of how we position ourselves at night in the comfort of our bed can go a long way to help us fight sleep apnea. According to the Better Sleep Council, side-sleeping ensures a better quality of sleep, reducing the likelihood of developing sleep apnea. Let’s take a look at the best positions to sleep as the first line of defense to improve our chances to fight against sleep apnea:
1. Left-Side Sleeping:
Left-side sleeping allows for the best possible position to take proper rest. As per the Sleep Better Council, left-side sleeping ensures uninterrupted blood flow while we are in a sleeping position. Also, it reduces the possibility of breathing disruptions while we sleep. It also reduces snoring.
2. Right-Side Sleeping:
Sometimes left-side sleeping can be problematic for people with congestive heart diseases or even maybe for unease in changing lifelong habits. People with similar dispositions can opt for right-side sleeping, which can also provide the same benefits without forcing you to adjust to anything. Right-side sleeping is also said to be able to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can improve acid reflux.
3. Prone (stomach) Position:
It is a popular sleep choice among many which pull the tongue and soft tissue forward, creating clear pathways to breathe with ease. As a result, quality of sleep can be ensured, and sleep apnea can be contained. But people tend to dig deep with the face or hair, which ultimately covers some or most of the mouth, which prevents ease of breathing and instigates sleep apnea. So, if we just can ensure that we won’t be covering our face with the pillow, it will remove the possibility of snoring and help us fight sleep apnea.
According to sleep scientists, the above three sleep positions help us fight against sleep apnea without succumbing to our bodies to chemical interference. If and when we can be sure about having sleep apnea, we should try the above three sleeping positions as our first line of defense. Many sleep scientists suggest we try these positions first, and if they don’t fail to improve our sleeping, only then should we seek help from physicians.
Go get a goodnight’s sleep to fight afresh the next day!