Which modifications of sleep positions are used in the treatment of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB)?

Updated: Feb 13, 2020
  • Author: Vittorio Rinaldi, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

Body positioning during sleep can improve SDB in some patients. Because lying supine can allow gravity to assist in pulling lax tongue muscles back toward the posterior pharyngeal wall, patients should sleep on their sides, on their stomachs, or propped up 60°. These positions can improve SDB in patients whose symptoms occur primarily while supine.

Avoidance of supine sleeping can easily be accomplished with a sock, tennis ball, and safety pins. The tennis ball in a sock is pinned to the back of the pajamas, positioning the tennis ball between the scapulae. When the patient rolls into the supine position during sleep, this lump is uncomfortable enough that the position is immediately shifted, usually without the patient awakening.


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