Which pillow should you use if you suffer from sleep apnea

Which pillow should you use if you suffer from sleep apnea

Apr 24, 2023Pharmaflex Ltd.

Which pillow should you use if you suffer from sleep apnea


If you suffer from sleep apnea, you are in good company. Just think that a 2015 study conducted by the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland found that worldwide more than 1 billion people over the age of 35 have more than 5 apneas for every hour of sleep and that about 425 million individuals suffer from this syndrome in a moderate or severe form. 

But what do sleep apnea depend on and how to sleep to avoid its consequences?


Sleep apneas: what they are 

Also known as OSAS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome), sleep apnea syndrome is a more common phenomenon than you might imagine and is characterized by the momentary cessation of breathing. Unlike what happens during snoring, which is simply the noise produced by the vibration of the throat walls, during sleep apnea these close completely, preventing the passage of air altogether. This interruption of breathing can last from a few seconds to several minutes and often occurs over and over again during the night, impairing the quality of sleep, but more importantly, the quality of life.


If you also suffer from sleep apnea, you already know the symptoms when you wake up: drowsiness, fatigue, headache and irritability, in fact, are the most common consequences of sleep apnea syndrome, although sometimes the outcomes of this disorder can be even more serious. Although sleep apnea does not cause a permanent blockage in the passage of oxygen, in fact, it is still a phenomenon that needs to be monitored because, if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as cardiovascular disorders, high blood pressure, and other health problems. 

But what is the cause of sleep apnea?


Causes of sleep apnea

While the consequences of sleep apnea and continuous sleep interruption are common elements for all sleep apnea sufferers, the causes, on the other hand, can be of different types:

  • Overweight- sleep apnea and obesity is an often inseparable pair. Excess fat around the neck, in fact, can compress the airway during sleep and prevent the passage of air.
  • Alcohol consumption and sedatives-because of the relaxation of throat muscles caused by these substances, sleep apnea of varying intensity and duration can occur.
  • Cigarette smoking--smoking, you know it too, causes inflammation of the airways, which then lose their elasticity, increasing the risk of sleep apnea.
  • Excess tissue-obviously , the presence of enlarged tonsils, hypertrophied adenoids, or deviated nasal septum also play a major role in the onset of this syndrome.
  • Older age--in old age, sleep apnea is very common, due to muscle relaxation and decreased mobility.

alcohol consumption and smoking

But now that you know what sleep apnea depends on, you're surely wondering if and why it is dangerous. 


Are sleep apneas dangerous? 

The answer to this question is yes, and why sleep apnea is dangerous is obvious: because by disrupting the body's oxygenation, the body is affected, especially the heart and brain. 

Two studies on the risks associated with sleep apnea were presented during one of the European Respiratory Society's congresses. The first study, conducted by researchers at the University of Lausanne, showed that elderly people who suffer from sleep apnea have an increased risk of cognitive decline, compared with those who do not. Specifically, the analysis showed that oxygen deprivation due to sleep apnea negatively affects executive functions, memory, language, and spatial perception.

In contrast, the second study, conducted by researchers at Angers University Hospital, found that those who spend more than 6 percent of the night with low blood oxygen levels have an almost doubled risk of developing blood clots related to deep vein thromboembolism.

But these are just the latest research findings regarding sleep apnea, because instead it has always been known that this syndrome actively contributes to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. To avert the risks of sleep apnea, therefore, it is necessary to take action as soon as possible.


Treatment for sleep apnea can vary depending on the severity of the disorder and the causes. In some cases, it may be enough to make some lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. In other cases, it may be necessary to use a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask during sleep, which helps keep the airway open. 

In any case, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully and not to try to self-medicate or use non-prescribed devices, also because in many cases, relying on positional therapy for sleep apnea will suffice to reduce any health-related risks.


How to sleep to avoid sleep apnea

Intermittent breathing during sleep, as we have seen, can be caused by a variety of factors, but recent studies have also shown how the position taken during sleep affects in a certain way not only the increase in the number of apneas, but also the worsening of the episodes.

For example, it has been seen that sleeping on one's back causes sleep apnea to last longer, blood oxygen supply to drop dramatically, and episodes of tachycardia or bradycardia to assume worrisome intensities.

Moreover, the latest estimates say that as many as 25 percent of sleep apnea patients suffer from it solely and only because of the position they assume during sleep, to the point that positional therapy of obstructive sleep apnea has taken hold over the years, which has proven to be particularly useful in treating mild to moderate forms of this syndrome.


Despite the highfalutin name, it is nothing transcendental: in practice, this therapy is based on learning to change one's sleeping position from supine or prone to lying on one's side. 

Methods for changing sleeping position include inserting tennis balls into pajamas, attaching them to the front of the shirt so that sleeping supine is uncomfortable, and the use of a backpack filled with bulky items, to be worn at bedtime to avoid sleeping on the back.

But if these ingenious methods do not convince you, know that there is a much easier way to avoid sleep apnea: use an ergonomic pillow.


Sleep apnea pillow: what it should look like

During sleep, proper weight and pressure distribution is essential to promote relaxation of the back, neck, shoulders and, consequently, the upper respiratory tract. Considering, then, that experts recommend sleeping on one side, it is evident that the pillow for sleep apnea must be the right height to promote this position.

The Pharmaflex Standard pillow made of Air Cell, an evolution of memory foam, is therefore the perfect solution. Available in three different heights, 10 cm, 13.5 cm and 15 cm, in fact, it responds perfectly to the needs of different body types, promoting the correct position on the side, which on the one hand averts sleep apnea and on the other prevents the neck and back from suffering musculoskeletal imbalances.

Pharmaflex Standard

Get back to better breathing. Choose Pharmaflex pillows to combat sleep apnea and see what a joy it is, waking up refreshed in the morning!

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