Tag : sleep apnea

Diagnosing Your Sleeping Position: How Do You Sleep?

How many sleeping positions do you know, rather and more importantly, what’s your dominant sleep position? Not to venture into the wealth of literature you’ve read on the topic at hand, but scientifically speaking, there are only just 3 sleep positions: Sleeping on your stomach, sleeping on you back, or sleeping on your side. Then begs the next question: what good does your reflexive sleep position do you?

 

Benefits of the different sleep positions

1. Sleeping on your Side:

This touted to be extremely beneficial for anyone with sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep loss and sleep impairment. How so? Scientific research has shown that you’ll easily catch more rest while sleeping on your side; and in this position you’re much less likely to experience sleep disruption. Aside from the nocturnal ones with sleep disorders, other groups of people for whom sleeping on the side is highly recommended include people with:

  • Hip dislocation or hip pain
  • Weak joints and painful joints (inflamed joints)
  • Backache and sore shoulders
  • Expectant women

 

www.publicdomainpictures.net_sleeping street

(Image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net)

It is appreciated that sleeping on your side alleviates the pressure and pain imposed on the body’s pressure points and aforementioned key common body complaints. Side-sleeping does not even necessitate the use of a pillow or to use your lower arm as a pillow: this is because your neck will be naturally supported while your lower shoulder is completely hunched (your neck tends to obey gravity by reflexively deviating to grounding).

 

www.telegraph.co.uk Untitled-1_2372461b

(Image courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk)

Sleeping on your side can be enacted in several variations of the position, but you’re sure to be most comfortable with your knees curled up towards your chest area while lying on your side. There may be a minor traction formed in the lower back area (about the cervical spine).

 

2. Sleeping on your Back:

Otherwise called the Supine sleeping position, lying on your back has been known to be counterproductive to sleep by inducing :

  • Phases of intermittent sleep apnea
  • Sleep deprivation due to sleep loss and sleep disruption – causing an overall lower quality of sleep due to the impact on the normal sleep-cycle
  • Agitation of the sleeper leading to restlessness – the supine sleeper may wake up feeling sore or tired especially in the shoulders and back area

Not to rule out sleeping on the back.. A recommended remedy to counter the potential risks of the supine position is by anchoring the knees so that they’re a little elevated; and this could be by placing a rolled towel or soft pillow right beneath the knees. This should naturally align the body, inclining the body’s spine to its natural curvature.

 

en.wikipedia.org_sleeping supine and prone

(Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

3. Sleeping on your Stomach:

So far this may very well be the least favored of the aforementioned sleeping positions, lying on your stomach, also known as the Prone sleeping position. Sleeping prone is not recommended by medical professionals, more so sleep experts…They warn that sleeping on the stomach poses the following risks:
Prone sleepers experience constant tossing and turning in bed in a bid to settle in a comfortable sleeping position

  • Has been reported to promote restlessness
  • Sleeping on your tummy may lead to sore upper shoulders and neck pain
  • It leads to strain and tension in the lower back are
  • It causes discomfort and compression of your precious internal organ
  • Is generally strenuous on your neck and spine

Persons suffering from sleeping disorders are altogether advised against the Prone-position which only further complicates their sleeping disturbances.

deviantart.com sleepy

(Image courtesy of DeviantArt.com)

Nonetheless, the prone sleeper is advised to keep most complications at bay by simply doing without a pillow, or, if absolutely necessary, to get by with a very soft pillow. The cushioning of a pillow is deemed unnecessary in this sleeping position so as to avoid having the sleeper’s neck anchored in awkward uncomfortable angles relative to the spine. On our review of the best memory foam mattress brands, we recommend firm mattresses for stomach sleepers.

(Video courtesy of: Yahoo.com)

Consensus on Most Favorable Sleeping Position

There is to no surprise, a faction of sleep scientists who insist that sleeping on the back (Supine-position) is actually the most recommended way to sleep. Perhaps this has a lot to do with how parents are advised to lay their infant babies in supine positioning, or why inpatients admitted in hospital wards are made to lie down this way by default on their hospital beds. Supporting supine as the healthiest sleeping position is a number of reasons advocating sleeping on your back:

  • The supine position posited to promote optimal blood flow to the brain and eliminates the risk of congestion
  • Facilitates for easier breathing eliminating the risk of suffocation or obstructed breathing obstruction

en.wikipedia.org_Sleeping_Supine

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The ultimate supine sleeping position is specified as lying on your back with your head inclined with an elevation of about 10 – 30% for optimal comfort and rest. Case in point, for instance, is lying in a hammock… Even in historical native tradition, the default lying position was inevitably lying on the back in supine position, with that elevation for the natural curvature of the spine — as opposed to lying down on flat level spaces.

 

Practical Approach to Supine Sleeping Position

It may take a while before you can literally train yourself into a sleeping position that is different from the sleeping posture you naturally and automatically take on when you fall asleep.

 

www.dummies.com 443180.image0

(Image courtesy of: Dummies.com)

To enact the proper and supposedly healthiest sleeping position, consider grabbing a couple of pillows, a mattress foam wedge, using block chips to raise the bed at the headboard side, or alternatively using an adjustable bed instead. Ideally, you should have both the head area and leg area elevated, as in an adjustable bed, but only to an optimal comfortable positioning. The wedge foam will go under the leg area to take care of the slight inclination of the legs. Your resultant sleeping position will be almost akin to resting on a reclining chair while leaning your back. It shouldn’t feel unnatural or strained but rather, relaxing, accommodating to the shoulders and back, aligning with the spine, and just right for perfect slumber.

 

 

(Sleep and Sleeping Disorders - Image Courtesy of en.paperblog.com )

Sleep Disorders – Know What’s Killing Your Sleep

 

You may have noticed that you’re more likely to feel sleepy at certain times of the day… Scientifically, there are two time periods when you’re very likely to feel sleepy and thus most vulnerable to falling asleep, and they are: the period from 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM; and the period from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. It is further noted that the earlier time capsule in the early morning hours (2:00 – 6:00 AM) bears a much stronger desire to sleep than the latter one in the afternoon.

 

( Drowsy Driving Graph - Image Courtesy of www.cdc.gov )

( Drowsy Driving Graph – Image Courtesy of www.cdc.gov )

 

It therefore comes as no surprise that the greatest incidence of accidents due to sleepiness are found to occur at this very same time period in the early morning hours.

 

( Time of Road Accident Occurrence - Drowsy Driving - Image Courtesy of www.nhtsa.gov )

( Time of Road Accident Occurrence – Drowsy Driving – Image Courtesy of www.nhtsa.gov )

READ: What’s the best memory foam mattress type to prevent sleep disorders?

Biological Factors Affecting Your Sleep

Aside from the homeostatic condition and circadian rhythm factors that contribute to sleep patterns in humans, certain other factors like proteins (called Cytokines, produced by Leukocytes) among other cells that act as mediators in the intra-cerebral cells also have a key role in the regulation of both sleep and immunity. Particularly, the Cytokines have a great impact on the pathogenesis and incidence of EDSExcessive Daytime Sleepiness which is associated with sleep deprivation and various sleep disorders.

 

Further, there are certain sleep enhancing substances otherwise known as sleep factors that promote sleep. After long periods of being in the wakeful state, or when the person is suffering from illness due to inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis, HIV) or infection (viral, bacterial), the concentration of these sleep factors increases markedly thus inducing sleep.

( Cytokines and Sleep Loss - Image Courtesy of www.researchgate.net )

( Cytokines and Sleep Loss – Image Courtesy of www.researchgate.net )

What is the Function of Sleep?

The true function of sleep is seen to be one of the greatest mysteries in science. Nonetheless, there’s no doubting the essential necessity of sleep given that sleep deprivation has been shown to result in dire consequences in both the long-term and short-term. Sleep deprivation typically results from modern lifestyles as well as sleeping disorders such as Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, neurological, psychiatric and psychological (personality) disorders, and may also be a side-effect of medication.

(Sleep Deprivation Image Courtesy of - www.lifehack.org )

(Sleep Deprivation Image Courtesy of – www.lifehack.org )

 

Short-term effects of sleep deprivation:

  • Low attention span
  • Diminished concentration
  • Lowered quality of life
  • Reduced productivity
  • Accidents and mishaps on the road, at home and other environs
  • Absenteeism from work or school

Long-term effects of sleep deprivation:

  • Obesity
  • Impaired memory
  • Depression
  • Cardiac disease (coronary artery disease, heart failure)
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes (especially Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus)
  • Increased mortality and morbidity (due to accidents and sleep-related chronic diseases)

 

( Sleep Deprivation - Image Courtesy of healthpromotion.caltech.edu )

( Sleep Deprivation – Image Courtesy of healthpromotion.caltech.edu )

 

Undebatable is the fact that quality sleep is known to be conservative and restorative to one’s health, adaptive to one’s ideal physiological state, consolidating to one’s memory and cognitive functioning, thermoregulative in the body temperature. For instance, scientific studies have confirmed that adequate sleep before study and learning is vital to memory consolidation.

 

Prevalence of Sleep Complaints in the US population

In the final report from the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research, it was shown that over 40 million citizens of the US actually suffer from chronic sleep disorders that affect their sleep and wakeful states; the same is seen across the globe as prevalence of sleep complaints is very rampant especially with modern lifestyles and current demands. It was shown that about 35% of the US population has trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, or waking up early in the morning, or experience non-restorative sleep. For many of them (about 10%) the insomnia persists to affect their normal functioning during the day; while millions others (3-4%) suffer from Sleep Apnea. Every 1 in 5 adults is shown to complain of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS).

 

( Sleep Deprivation - Image Courtesy www.bbc.com )

( Sleep Deprivation – Image Courtesy www.bbc.com )

 

There were 4 main sleep-related complaints that people mostly seek medical attention for, namely:

  1. Insomnia
  2. EDS – Excessive Daytime Somnolence
  3. Inability to fall asleep
  4. Abnormal behavior and movement during sleep

 

Clinical Evaluation of your Sleeping Disorder

When you seek medical attention for your suspected sleeping disorder, several factors will be assessed even before lab tests can be carried out; you will first undergo an analysis of your medical history, as well as a physical examination of your body.

Your medical history evaluation will be as detailed as possible, assessing factors such as: your sleeping habits and patterns; medical history of any medication previously or currently being taken; any underlying neurological, psychological and psychiatric disorders; whether one is using any drugs and substances like alcohol; the family history – any genetic disorders (cardiovascular, endocrinological, respiratory, neurological) and general family background.

The medical assessment of your sleeping condition will not just focus on the symptoms presented in the tight time frame at the onset of sleep or the duration of your sleeping phase, but rather, an entire analysis of the 24 hours in your day will be under the microscope. Your sleeping pattern will be evaluated based on: time of sleep onset, frequency of sleep, type of symptoms presented and at what time.

 

( Pediatric PSG - Image Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org )

( Pediatric PSG Testing – Image Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org )

 

Some of the common symptoms typically assessed occur in the early evening (at night), or at various stages of sleep and they include:

  • RLS – Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Leg jerking during the night
  • RBD – REM Behavior Disorder
  • Abnormal NREM behavior and movements
  • Transition disorders of the Sleep-Wake cycle
  • Arousal disorders
  • Snoring
  • Repetitive awakening (sleep disruption)
  • Breathing disorders during one’s sleep (e.g. Breathing cessation while asleep)
  • Constant inevitable desire to fall asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep walking
  • Lab Testing in Diagnosing Sleep Disorders

 

After the extensive evaluation of the patient’s medical history and their physical examination, laboratory testing follows suit. The ab testing should entail a build up of the primary sleeping condition that leads up to other secondary symptoms and conditions which are co-morbid to the sleep disorder.

There are 2 key lab tests in analyzing and testing a sleep disorder, and they are:

  • PSG – Polysomnography
  • MSLT – Multiple Sleep Latency Test

 

( PSG Test Image Courtesy of - www.chicagosleepapneasnoring.com )

( PSG Test Image Courtesy of – www.chicagosleepapneasnoring.com )

 

The PSG Test concurrently assesses several physiological aspects including: airflow in the nose, airflow in the mouth, repiratory (breathing) effort), saturation of oxygen, positioning of the body, snore analysis, EEG (Electro-Encephalography), EMG (Electro-Myography), EOG (Electro-Oculography), EKG (Electro-Cardiography).

 

(MSLT Image Courtesy of - www.medscape.org )

(MSLT Image Courtesy of – www.medscape.org )

 

Contrary to common assumptions, sleep analysis of sleep disorders is not only relevant and dynamic, but also complicated yet necessary — especially considering how important sufficient restful sleep is to your overall well-being.