More than twenty million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a serious
sleep disorder that affects breathing. This page is designed to give
you a little bit of information on sleep apnea, and how memory foam
can help improve sleep for some individuals with the condition.
Please note that this information
is being posted by laypeople, for laypeople.
The following is not intended to diagnose any disease, or to propose
memory foam as a cure for anything. The claims made here are based
solely on anecdotal evidence from sleep apnea patients, not on clinical
trials. Sleep apnea can be a serious condition, and if you think
you have it, you should consult your doctor.
Apnea simply means a cessation of breathing. Sleep
apnea is a condition in which the body stops breathing while the individual
is asleep. The medical profession recognizes two basic types of the
condition, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA).
CSA is a much more dangerous condition, and it should be noted that
the only type of apnea that will be discussed here is obstructive
Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common
form; about 9 out of 10 people with sleep apnea have this type. While
it is still a serious condition, OSA is far less dangerous than central
sleep apnea. With OSA, as the name suggests, the body stops breathing
temporarily because of an obstruction in the airway. This could be
caused by fat deposits or body positioning, or any number of other
factors. Central sleep apnea is when the body "forgets"
to breath. In this condition, the breathing reflex is absent, so lungs
to not expand. Central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the brain
stem. Its causes are entirely different from those of OSA, and memory
foam will not help with CSA in any way. CSA can be fatal, so if you
think you have CSA, consult a doctor immediately.
interruptions to breathing that are experienced by OSA sufferers generally
only last a few seconds before the individual wakes up, generally
shifting position or otherwise correcting the blockage. These apnea
episodes only last a few seconds, but in some cases they can occur
thirty or forty times in an hour. The result is that the sleeper is
prevented from ever entering into the deep phase of sleep known as
REM sleep, something that is essential in order to feel rested during
the day. OSA is particularly insidious, because people are often unaware
that they have the condition. These individuals may always feel tired,
but if they've had the condition for a number of years, they may literally
have never had a good night sleep. The difference is sp profound that
some people, after seeking treatment, report that they feel unlike
they ever have before.
OSA can be caused by a number of different factors. One of the major
causes is obesity; extra weight on the chest can constrict air passages,
especially for those who sleep on their backs. Fatty deposits inside
the throat can also cause blockages. Some people require a special
device called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device.
They're not very fun to wear (see above), and so doctors usually prefer
less invasive methods of controlling OSA. With relatively minor cases
of sleep apnea, sometimes all that is needed is a change of pillows
or sleeping positions. That's where memory foam comes in.
Several companies produce special pillows for sleep
apnea that are designed for side sleeping. Sleeping on one's side
helps to reduce extra weight on the chest, and also allows for a more
natural alignment of internal air passages. Unfortunately, many people
find side-sleeping uncomfortable. This is especially true for overweight
individuals, who are also the most susceptible to the developing the
condition. Memory foam mattresses or mattress toppers can help to
alleviate the pressure points
that make side sleep uncomfortable. By eliminating pressure points,
the effects of which also disturb sleep, sleep apnea victims are able
to use the side-sleep pillows that can provide relief. The sleeper
gets a double benefit, less tossing and turning from their apnea condition,
and less tossing and turning caused by pressure points.
Another major benefit of memory foam in general
is it's ability to keep the spine aligned properly during sleep By
supporting all body parts evenly, memory foam can eliminate the sag
effect that causes misaligned vertebrae and back pain. For people
with sleep apnea, the even support of memory foam serves a double
purpose of keeping both spine and airway aligned, allowing air to
travel more easily. Some apnea episodes can be caused simply by poor,
contorted body positioning. Memory foam can help apnea sufferers to
avoid this type of episode.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition with serious
risks, and should not be taken lightly. Consult your doctor before
embarking an any kind of supplemental therapy program. Memory
foam can improve general health and wellbeing for everyone, but can
also have special benefits for those with some types of sleep apnea.
More Information On:
Mattresses and Beds
How Sleep Aid Foam Can Help