In this post we are continuing our look at health conditions that can be impacted through the use of an adjustable bed.
This article will focus on snoring and the more serious sleep disorder of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleeping disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts. This can leave sufferers feeling groggy and tired even after a full nights sleep.
By raising your head a few inches with your adjustable bed you can reduce pressure on the throat muscles which helps to open your airways and enable better breathing. But there is a lot more to it than that.
A study on the Epidemiology of Obstructive Sleep Apnea by the Mayo Clinic concluded that 3-4% of people suffer from sleep apnea.
They stated that “altogether, these large studies estimate the prevalence of OSA syndrome at approximately 3–4% in men and 2% in women.”
A related document published by the British Lung Foundation warns that sleep apnea is “affecting an estimated 1.5 million adults in the UK, and yet up to 85% are undiagnosed, therefore untreated.”
Light snoring is more common and not necessarily an issue (other than to your partner) but unfortunately this can mean that the more serious cases of sleep apnea get ignored and go undiagnosed
Another research piece, Clinical Consequences of and economic costs of untreated obstructive sleep apnea syndrome establishes that Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or snoring can be a problem in relationships and increases memory issues.
When someone is sleeping and starts snoring loudly, it creates a process in which the person can stop breathing for a brief period of time. Even though there is no consciousness, the body is not resting as it should. After waking up the following morning, there is usually a sensation of tiredness and unrest.
But what does the sleeping position and adjustable beds have to do with all of this?
According to the research Effect of sleep position on sleep apnea severity, sufferers of sleep apnea, when sleeping in a completely horizontal position on their backs resulted in an apnea index twice as high as the rest of the participants who slept in other positions.
Prerequisites to reduce snoring with an adjustable bed
It is important to take into account that using an adjustable bed to reduce snoring will not work appropriately if certain conditions are not met. Here are some of the most important changes to make firsthand.
Although we usually mention sleep apnea here most of these things also impact lighter snoring in the same way.
1. Avoiding unhealthy habits
Working on a sleeping position will help, but it will be more difficult if there are unhealthy habits that increase the risks of apnea. Among the causes of snoring, the ones that stand out the most are smoking and drinking alcohol.
There are plenty of studies that have proven the correlation between smoking and sleep apnea or OSA, like The impact of smoking status on OSA severity, Interaction between and OSA and Where there is Smoke… There is sleep apnea -just to name a few. According to all of these, the likelihood of snoring as a smoker can go up to 30 – 40% more than non smokers.
The research Alcohol and the risk of sleep apnea: a systematic review and meta-analysis found that “estimates demonstrated that higher levels of alcohol consumption increased the risk of sleep apnea by 25%.” As alcohol relaxes the muscles needed to breathe properly, it ends up obstructing the air path and results in the person snoring during the night, no matter the position.
2. Rhinitis and allergens
Rhinitis is a medical condition in which the walls of the breathing path get obstructed. This can either be something that develops as we grow older or the result of allergens.
This condition has already been linked to Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome as noted here: The linkage of allergic rhinitis and obstructive sleep apnea. The researchers found that it involves two major mechanisms, the first one is the “increase in airway resistance due to higher nasal resistance” and the second one is the “reduction in pharyngeal diameter from mouth breathing that moves the mandible inferiorly.”
The study Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis: the threat for obstructive apnea found that “there is a high correlation between non-allergic rhinitis and obstructive sleep apnea” as well. However, researchers highlighted that the impairment in both groups was still quite similar.
Image source: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ayse_Baccioglu/publication/26725059_Allergic_and_nonallergic_rhinitis_The_threat_for_obstructive_sleep_apnea/links/5b90ceefa6fdcce8a4c80208/Allergic-and-nonallergic-rhinitis-The-threat-for-obstructive-sleep-apnea.pdf
Either way, this condition has to do with the internal structure of the body or immune system and sadly it is not something with which an adjustable bed would be very helpful alone.
Even though there are medicines for these possible types of rhinitis, the best thing to do is reduce the existence of possible allergens. This includes dusting bedrooms, washing bedsheets frequently, also blankets and pillows, as well as ironing the mattress every once in a while and getting the pillows in the dryer every couple of weeks. Another important allergen to consider is pet fur. It doesn’t mean you should not keep pets, but you shouldn’t let them sleep on your bed if you suffer from rhinitis.
3. Diet and exercise
According to the study Interactions between obesity and obstructive sleep apnea, researchers found that OSA has a direct correlation with being overweight. In fact, they estimated that “in the adult population, the prevalence of OSA is estimated to be around 25% and as high as 45% in obese subjects. In that sense, the researchers presented the metabolic dysregulation as follows.
Image source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3021364/
The study concluded that “weight loss appears to confer benefits not only on OSA severity but also in terms of mitigating cardiometabolic consequences related to both OSA and obesity.” Thus, it is important to keep good habits and a healthy lifestyle. It includes eating balanced meals, sleep well and exercising. This will bring not only bring the patient to an ideal weight but also prevent some serious diseases.
Another important aspect of exercising is the fact that it strengthens the muscles we use to breathe. When doing cardio, the lungs expand and contract deeper and faster which strengthens them. When they are strong enough, it will improve snoring.
4. Sleep habits and hygiene
According to the study Sleep hygiene-related conditions in patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, good sleep habits and hygiene improved patients’ chances of getting rid of their snoring as it expressed that “patients with mild to moderate OSA can experience symptom relief if they are trained to correct lifestyle habits to maintain adequate sleep hygiene-related conditions.”
The following should be avoided at least one hour before going to bed; strong feelings/emotions such as anger, drinking alcohol and inadequate climate conditions, like humidity and temperature.
The perfect angle to reduce snoring with an adjustable bed
Initially we wanted to understand if sleeping position matters and impacts snoring. We found a study called Usage of Positional Therapy in Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea that studied 53 subjects and, out of those patients, 40 of them were asked to go through a polygraphic evaluation after 12 weeks. They were contacted routinely throughout the whole process to check that they were sleeping in the designated position.
The participants of the test simply used a normal bed and wore an elasticated band around their chest and back with a tennis ball on their back – this stopped them sleeping on their back.
According to the investigation, “PT was successful in 27 out of 40 patients (68%).” This proved that sleeping position impacts sleep apnea.
Then almost by accident, NASA came up with the perfect sleeping position, which was first identified for space travel but ended up having a positive impact on several health issues here on Earth. As you can see below, it is very different from our regular horizontal sleeping position.
The zero-gravity position, as it is commonly called, or neutral body position is aimed to keep the hips and the back of the neck completely aligned, while the top of the head is reclined in a 24-degree angle. On the other end, the thighs should be raised at a 128-degree angle, while the calves should be at an angle of 133 degrees from the alignment of the thighs.
When the zero gravity position is achieved in an adjustable bed, the body feels weightless, since the force of gravity is falling evenly on every single part of the body whilst allowing for the weight of different body parts. Therefore, the body is well supported and the airways are kept open with the least load on the muscles, this means you get a better rest and snore less.
This position may seem a little strange as most of us have been sleeping horizontally throughout our lives but once you try it out on an adjustable bed you will immediately understand this research.
With the use of an adjustable bed it is easy to achieve the zero gravity sleep position as well as many other comfortable positions:
For more general information about the other health benefits of adjustable beds please read this article.