To be in the best sleeping position for breathing problems, you’ve got to position yourself smartly. This involves positioning your body in a way that it overcomes the effects of gravity on your lungs, allowing you to breathe easier. There are two main ways to do this.
The first principle to sleeping in the best position for breathing difficulties is to sleep elevated. Sleeping elevated opens your chest cavity, allowing your lungs to expand more. If your chest cavity has more space for your lungs to expand, it’s easier for you to breathe.
Sleeping in an elevated sleeping position also increases circulation of fluids throughout your head and torso. Sleeping in an inclined position helps your sinuses drain, alleviates postnasal drip, and uses gravity to keep fluid from pooling in your lungs. When all these things are taken care of, your ability to sleep greatly improves.
Best side sleeping position for breathing problems
For side sleepers, the best sleeping position for breathing problems is lying elevated while on your side. The most comfortable way to do this is to use a contoured incline sleeping pillow and a supportive leg separator pillow.
The combination of these two pillows gives your back muscles, spine, and hips the most support, while at the same time elevating your torso so you breathe easier. With your body completely supported and your torso positioned in a way that alleviates breathing problems, sleep will become much more satisfying.
Best back sleeping position for breathing problems
For back sleepers, the best sleeping position for breathing problems is to use a 10-inch to 12-inch triangle wedge pillow to elevate your torso, and a knee wedge pillow to elevate your legs. Why both pillows?
A 10-inch or 12-inch wedge pillow is the ideal height to sleep on to alleviate breathing difficulties. However, this is a fairly steep incline and some people find that they slide down their wedge pillow during the night. A knee wedge pillow will prevent you from sliding down your triangle wedge.
Additionally, resting your legs on a knee wedge pillow alleviates your back by removing pressure from your spine. Resting in this position is similar to a gravity eliminated position and allows your body to rest peacefully and in a relaxed state.
When your body is finally in the best sleeping position for breathing problems, you can rest assured that you’ll be sleeping better and feeling better than you have in a long time.
-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy