Sleeping is all about being able to relax and find a position where you can comfortably sink into your bed and snooze away. We choose to sleep on our sides, backs, or stomachs, depending on what we find to be the most comfortable. Some of us are known to toss and turn at night while others of us sleep like rocks.

But did you know that some sleeping positions have certain health advantages over others? Studies have shown that people who sleep on their backs are more likely to snore. The position may even put one at a higher risk of further complications from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  How you sleep plays a direct role in your physical health and well-being.

woman sleeping in various positions

Does Back Sleeping Cause Sleep Apnea?

Several studies have proven that back-sleepers are more likely to snore at night. When sleeping on your back, gravity causes the tongue to fall back which usually causes a small amount of airway obstruction. The vibrations caused by the obstruction are what makes one snore. Those who are back-sleepers and are overweight face even more problems as not only can gravity cause minor obstruction to occur but excess fat deposits within the neck and throat area can put added pressure on the airway, thereby causing or further complicating an obstruction. The obstruction can cause one to suffer from sleep apnea and those who have the condition are more prone to cessations in breathing when sleeping on their back.

Watch for sleep apnea symptoms such as:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Waking up unrested
  • Morning headaches
  • Loss of drive
  • Depression and other mood disorders

If you have these symptoms, it’s likely you have sleep apnea and should be tested. A sleep test will tell you if need professional treatment or if you can pursue at-home lifestyle modifications like a different sleeping position.

Can Side Sleeping Cure Sleep Apnea?

In the end, sleeping on your back won’t cause sleep apnea nor does everyone who snores suffer from the condition. There are many other factors that often play a role in determining if someone suffers from sleep apnea or not. Tongue size, soft palate size, and other factors can all be factors.

If you snore, try sleeping on your side. You might need to get a new pillow to help you feel comfortable in this position. And, speaking of pillows, you might be considering anti-snoring pillows. The effectiveness of these devices has not been clinically proven, but some people find them helpful. However, we only recommend them if you have been tested and only have simple snoring, not sleep apnea.

If side-sleeping resolves your snoring, you likely never had sleep apnea in the first place. However, if snoring persists, then it’s time to schedule a consultation with a sleep doctor or sleep dentist. If you have related sleep apnea symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness or waking up unrested, then you definitely need to be tested for sleep apnea.

A sleep study will be able to determine if you are suffering from sleep apnea or some other type of sleep disorder. If you are positively diagnosed, our sleep dentist is a great option for sleep apnea treatment that will keep your snoring and sleep apnea under control. Call us at (402) 493-4175 today!