Effect of sleep position on sleep apnea severity.
Thirty male patients evaluated sequentially for sleep apnea syndrome by all-night clinical polysomnography were compared for apnea plus hypopnea index (A + HI) during the time in the side versus time in the back sleep posture. For 24 subjects of this sample, who occupied both major body positions during the evaluation night, the apnea index was found to be twice as high during the time spent sleeping on their backs as it was when they slept in the side position.
This difference is reliable and inversely related to obesity. Five patients meeting diagnostic criteria for sleep apnea on an all-night basis fell within normal limits while in the side sleep position. This suggests sleep position adjustment may be a viable treatment for some nonobese sleep apnea patients.