Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a relatively common condition in which the muscles in the throat collapse, causing a complete or partial blockage of the airway, which pulls the individual out of a deep sleep intermittently throughout the night. While most cases occur in people between the ages of 30 and 60, it can affect both men and women at any age.
As most people are unaware of their disturbed sleep, the condition often goes undiagnosed. In fact, most people only realise they have a problem after a partner notices their symptoms.
If you are someone who suffers from sleep apnoea, you will know how much of an impact it can have on your quality of life. Prolonged periods of interrupted sleep can cause you to feel extremely tired during the day, which can hinder your concentration and productivity – not to mention making you more prone to accidents and injuries. If left untreated, it can also increase your risk of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and an irregular heartbeat.
What many people don’t know is that sleeping on a standard bed can actually exacerbate the condition. An adjustable bed, on the other hand, can help you achieve a restful night’s sleep and make a real difference to your day-to-day life.
What are the symptoms?
During sleep, the muscles in the walls of the throat relax and narrow, disturbing regular breathing. The lack of oxygen causes your brain to re-establish breathing by waking you up completely or bringing you into a lighter sleep. After you fall back into a deep sleep, you may experience repeated episodes of apnoea throughout the night. In severe cases, episodes can occur every couple of minutes until you wake in the morning.
While it’s not uncommon for the muscles in the throat to collapse to some extent while you sleep, in most cases, it is not enough to affect normal breathing. Most people who experience OSA will also have snoring problems and their breathing may be loud, strained or interrupted by gasping during an episode.
If you think you have OSA, it’s important that you seek medical help. Your GP will be able to assess your symptoms and you may be asked to undergo an assessment of your sleep to enable a diagnosis to be made.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the ways an adjustable bed can help with sleep apnoea.
How can an adjustable bed help?
When looking at treatments for sleep apnoea, an adjustable bed is worth your consideration. Medical professionals will often recommend patients to elevate the upper body while they sleep to prevent the tongue from falling back into the throat and blocking the airway. As the name implies, an adjustable bed can be moved into various positions, allowing you to find your optimum sleeping position to improve your quality of sleep. Rather than lying flat on a standard mattress (which can aid the gravitational pull on the throat and cause the airways to narrow), these electrical beds can be inclined at the head to help adjust the windpipe and open up the back of the mouth, making it easier to sleep. Sleeping in a recliner chair can also have the same effect.
Propping up your head can also help to prevent snoring problems that are often associated with OSA. The slight incline can also ease weight off the neck and reduce pressure points, which can be especially helpful for patients who are overweight, or have physical problems that may be triggering the condition, such as a narrow airway. Not only does sleeping in a fixed, semi-upright position alleviate pressure from the upper torso, it can also help to prevent acid reflux.
Doctors will often advise patients to sleep on their side to enable normal breathing throughout the night. An adjustable bed can help to keep your spine aligned while in this posture and save you from waking up feeling sore and stiff the next day. Our range of adjustable beds are also equipped with an exclusive Airflow® memory foam mattress that can help provide superior support so you can achieve a better rest.
If your condition is keeping your partner awake at night, many of our beds can also be adjusted separately on either side, meaning you and your partner can both benefit from a peaceful night’s sleep while remaining side by side.
A long term solution
As a temporary solution, many people choose to use pillows to prop up the upper body while in bed. However, the pillows will often shift around during sleep, making an upright position almost impossible to maintain throughout the night, eventually causing you to slip back into a nearly flat position. Investing in an adjustable bed offers a much more long-term and reliable method of getting a good night’s sleep.
Should I get an adjustable bed?
While altering your sleeping position may not help all forms of sleep apnoea, when used in conjunction with other treatments, it can be extremely effective. As well as using an adjustable bed, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to ease troublesome symptoms. For example, losing excess weight, reducing your alcohol intake (especially during the evening) and quitting smoking can all help. You should also avoid taking sleeping tablets or any medicines that relax the central nervous system.
It is also worth remembering that what works for some people may not necessarily offer effective relief for you. There is no one bed or mattress that will help all people who suffer from sleep apnoea, and you may require a variety of lifelong treatments to ease your symptoms.
However, there’s no denying that an adjustable bed will help you achieve a better night’s sleep and leave you feeling more energised the following day. If you want to find out more about how our adjustable beds can help provide long term treatment for sleep apnoea and many other health conditions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.