Friday, June 18, 2010

Positional therapy harness helps reduce sleep apnea for some

A positional device that makes you sleep on your sides may be an effective alternative to CPAP in solving select sleep apnea cases. Study results from the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine show apneic episodes caused by sleeping on your back can be nearly eliminated by changing positions.

The Zzoma Positional Sleeper is a large harness designed to prevent people from sleeping on their backs. The contraption, seen below, resembles a large backwards fanny pack.

Positional therapy may help reduce sleep breathing pauses because the soft tissue in your throat is less likely to collapse and block the airway when you sleep on your side.

The study involved 40 patients with mild to moderation positional obstructive sleep apnea. Each spent a night in a sleep lab without treatment. The subjects later returned. Half used a Zzoma Positional Sleeper; others used CPAP.

Researchers observed 91 percent of the subjects had fewer than five episodes per hour while wearing a positional device. The results were only slightly better using CPAP; 97 percent of patients had fewer than five episodes per hour.

Nearly all patients were able to remain sleeping on their sides for the duration of the night. A polysomnogram measured improved quality of sleep for most subjects.

The device used in the study to treat positional sleep apnea is similar to a home remedy covered previously in the sleep education blog. By fastening a tennis ball to your back, you can prevent rolling onto your back.

Other variations of the technique have been used. These include a backpack with a foam ball inside, a triangular pillow, and a posture alarm.

The Sleep Education blog cautions positional therapy is only effective in select positional sleep apnea cases. CPAP therapy is the treatment of choice for mild to severe forms of sleep apnea. If you think may have obstructive sleep apnea you’re advised to seek treatment at an AASM accredited sleep center.

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