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Finding the Best Sleep Position for Managing Sleep Apnea: A Comprehensive Guide

by | Jan 31, 2024

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder described by momentary pauses in breathing or frequent shallow breaths while an individual sleeps. It can lead to disrupted sleep, daytime sleepiness, and other serious health complications if left untreated. While a variety of treatment options are available, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy and oral appliances, many individuals should consider their sleep position and if it is making their condition worse. In this blog, we’ll dig into different sleep positions and their potential positive or negative impacts on sleep apnea. We’ll also discuss strategies for managing the condition effectively, like oral appliance therapy.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)  “occurs when a narrowed or blocked airway interferes with breathing repeatedly during sleep.” OSA, is the most common form of sleep apnea. This condition is when the throat muscles relax and block the airway, leading to breathing pauses.

Different Sleep Positions:

  • Sleeping on Your Side:
    • Side sleeping “is better for reducing sleep apnea than back sleeping.” Sleeping on your side can help stop the airway from collapsing by keeping the tongue and soft tissues from blocking the throat.
  • Sleeping on Your Back:
    • Sleeping on your back is not recommended for individuals with sleep apnea. Back sleeping can lead to the tongue falling back and blocking the airway.
  • Sleeping on Your Stomach:
    • Sleeping on your stomach can prevent the airway from being blocked, but it can also strain the neck and spine. It is the “least popular sleep position among adults…leads to rotation of the neck, back pain, or unwanted awakenings.”

Which Sleep Position Should You Use if You Have Sleep Apnea?

For individuals suffering from OSA, the most beneficial position would be side sleeping. Side sleeping can help reduce the likelihood of airway obstruction, which can encourage uninterrupted sleep and improved breathing patterns overall.

Head Position for Sleep Apnea:

In addition to sleep position, the proper position of the head can also positively impact sleep apnea symptoms. Elevating the head while sleeping can help manage symptoms by keeping the tongue and soft tissues from collapsing into the airway. Using a supportive pillow or a bed that can be lifted can help maintain a slight incline and improve airflow while sleeping.


Managing Your Sleep Apnea with an Oral Appliance:

In addition to these lifestyle changes, oral appliances are a popular treatment option for managing sleep apnea, particularly for individuals with mild to moderate OSA. These custom-fitted devices are designed to hold the jaw and tongue in a position that keeps the airway open during sleep. These devices reduce the frequency and severity of breathing disruptions.


Consultation with SleepWell Louisiana to Treat Your Sleep Apnea Condition:

If you think you have sleep apnea or are struggling with symptoms such as snoring, daytime fatigue, or morning headaches, it’s imperative to seek treatment. At SleepWell Louisiana, our team of sleep specialists offers comprehensive diagnostic services and a personalized treatment plan to address your sleep apnea condition effectively. Schedule a consultation today to take the first step toward better sleep and improved quality of life.


While sleep position independently may not cure your sleep apnea symptoms, it can play a significant role in managing symptoms and promoting better sleep quality. Side sleeping is generally recommended for individuals with sleep apnea over back or stomach sleeping. An individual with OSA may consider sleeping with their head elevated above the torso. If these positions do not mitigate OSA symptoms, exploring oral appliance therapy can further enhance sleep apnea management. Don’t hesitate to contact us at SleepWell Louisiana to further understand your treatment options and start your journey to restful sleep and optimal health.

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