Laying on my back

UrielUriel Registered User regular
So I've always been a belly sleeper, was always just most comfortable for me since I would have trouble getting comfy and trouble breathing on my back.

Anyway I was recently diagnosed with severe sleep apnea (64 events an hour... Woof) and started treatment which has already begun to vastly improve my quality of life after less than a week using the machine.

However I have to sleep on my side or preferably my back to maintain a good seal on the mask, and since I've

A: always slept on my back
B: am very heavy
And C: have petty bad posture

I have found it not only uncomfortable to sleep a full night in this position but it has been flattening out the slight hump in my upper spine (between my shoulder blades and up to the base of my neck) and this has me in excruciating pain in the mornings and having to pop a few ibuprofen or acetaminophen that I would rather not take and limiting my mobility for the first part of the day (well more than usual for how big I've gotten waiting for the cpap machine nearly bedridden from the apnea effects)

I was wondering if anyone had any tips for making the transition to back sleeping much easier? Should I get fresher pillows? How many and what kind? Should I try boxing in my head so I don't turn it to the side? How do I keep my arms from losing circulation and going numb?

Posts

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited December 2020
    Having a set of pillows to prop you up into a reclined sitting position might alleviate the back pain, but those other issues are worth discussing with your GP that is working with you for your apnea.

    Enc on
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  • UrielUriel Registered User regular
    Thanks! I will certainly bring it up next time I see my sleep doctor, but since I saw him just last week the next appointment is like a month out. I hadn't started to hurt so bad until like this weekend. I figured I could at least try a few things to maybe alleviate it a bit in the mean time.

    If it gets much worse than this morning though instead of better the plan is definitely to call in earlier.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    If your arms are going numb while sleeping on your back, that's probably worth talking about earlier as well.

  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    My no.1 tip is to put a pillow under your knees. This will help maintain a natural curve to your spine.

    For a more longterm solution you'll probably
    a. Have to evaluate your mattress. If you sleep on your back it usually needs to be a bit stiffer than if you're a stomach sleeper.
    b. Exercises and stretches to strengthen your core and correct your posture. Weightlifting (rowing, squats, benchpress, military press, seated shoulder press) certainly helped me when I had backproblems due to working from a chair. Even as little as 30 minutes 3 days a week will help immensly if you do it right.

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  • UrielUriel Registered User regular
    Fair enough. That's always been that way for me. It even happened during my sleep studies and when I raised concern about it he didn't seem to pay much mind.

  • JdNoaJdNoa Registered User regular
    I used to sleep on my back with my arms resting on top of a few layers of quilting batting. Different problem (repetitive strain injury making my hands go numb) but might be worth a try as a temporary measure to help your arms until you can discuss it with your doctor. Maybe a couple of folded towels if you don’t have batting handy.

    Uriel
  • Banzai5150Banzai5150 Registered User regular
    I've been using a CPAP machine since 2006. I am still a stomach sleeper. I have learned to turn my head, twist, etc to get comfortable and without breaking the seal on my mask. My problem is, no matter how comfortable, I have a hell of a time falling asleep on my back. I lay there unable to drift off forever. So I normally lay down normally and usually wake up on my back at some point. I know that's probably not super helpful, but I just can't get to sleep on my back. Also, if it's not obvious, the cleaner you shave the face, the better the seal stays intact. Oh, and I've toyed around with 10' and 6' tube lengths to give myself ability to roll around like I do in my sleep without choking myself. Currently I'm on the 6' as the slack on the 10' seemed to be more troublesome than helpful. Oh last thing, I used to get what is called "Mask Rain" or something to that effect, where you wake up and your mask is full of condensation from the humidifier. Get a tube cover, it's great at stopping this from happening.

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  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Banzai5150 wrote: »
    I've been using a CPAP machine since 2006. I am still a stomach sleeper. I have learned to turn my head, twist, etc to get comfortable and without breaking the seal on my mask. My problem is, no matter how comfortable, I have a hell of a time falling asleep on my back. I lay there unable to drift off forever. So I normally lay down normally and usually wake up on my back at some point. I know that's probably not super helpful, but I just can't get to sleep on my back. Also, if it's not obvious, the cleaner you shave the face, the better the seal stays intact. Oh, and I've toyed around with 10' and 6' tube lengths to give myself ability to roll around like I do in my sleep without choking myself. Currently I'm on the 6' as the slack on the 10' seemed to be more troublesome than helpful. Oh last thing, I used to get what is called "Mask Rain" or something to that effect, where you wake up and your mask is full of condensation from the humidifier. Get a tube cover, it's great at stopping this from happening.

    Newer CPAP machines let you adjust the humidity level and temperature of the tube. I had to lower the humidity and raise the temperature of mine until the tube didn't mist up. And now I'm having to adjust the humidity back up because the pellet stove is drying out the air in my house. It's not a perfect science.

    I'll also suggest scrubbing your face and the mask with a baby wipe every night before you put it on just to prevent maskne.

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  • SimpsoniaSimpsonia Registered User regular
    +1 for exercises being the only thing that fixed me. Starting in my late 20s I could no longer sleep on my back without awful pain. 10 years later, I started doing yoga, and my back pain is gone, and I can sleep on my back again. Just need to strengthen all of the muscles that atrophy by sitting 10+ hours a day. In particular a combo of squats, and the bridge pose to strengthen the glutes, is what helped me most.

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  • BlazeFireBlazeFire Registered User regular
    JdNoa wrote: »
    I used to sleep on my back with my arms resting on top of a few layers of quilting batting. Different problem (repetitive strain injury making my hands go numb) but might be worth a try as a temporary measure to help your arms until you can discuss it with your doctor. Maybe a couple of folded towels if you don’t have batting handy.

    @JdNoa can you expand on this? Where do you put the batting and where are your arms resting?

  • JdNoaJdNoa Registered User regular
    @BlazeFire It’s been years, but basically I would put a few layers of batting on top of the bottom sheet on either side of my torso - starting below my shoulders by a few inches and running all the way down below my hands. Then I would lay on my back with my arms in a neutral position (gentle bend in the elbows) on top of the batting. I was trying to give my arms and hands a softer, squooshier surface and avoid pressure points.

    I don’t know how much this actually helped vs all the other things I was doing like stretching, fixing my workstation ergonomics, and taking frequent breaks from work, but I was having a hard time sleeping and it was a simple thing to try.

  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    edited January 10
    I'm a big guy, 400lbs currently, and for the last couple years I sleep in an easy chair most nights. It supports me in a way that doesn't leave me hurting. If you don't have the means for that, look for a big foam wedge pillow that is wide enough for you, and also prop up your legs (around the knees/calfs) a bit with another pillow to simulate that shape.

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  • RiboflavinRiboflavin Registered User regular
    When my reflux was bad my doctor recommended blocks under the headboard to tilt the whole bed. Don't know if this is overkill for you but it was pretty comfy for me on my back though I did spend some time in a recliner too before I got it under control.

  • Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    I know common wisdom is harder mattresses are better for back sleepers, but...

    Well, I fall asleep on my back and generally wake up on my stomach, and I used to have back pain every morning - until I got a really soft mattress. I'm 375 lbs, a big dude as well, and the softer mattress allows my hips to sink, relieving the pressure on my back when my legs are straight. Getting a really soft mattress was a night and day difference.

  • manjimanji Registered User regular
    i'm stuck with back and side sleeping in my old age. i much prefer front sleeping, but the neck torsion just leaves me in constant pain now. my advice, get one of these:

    https://www.amazon.com/Bedsure-Adjustable-Seelping-Ergonomic-Cover-Standard/dp/B088CXPHRT/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=memory+foam+wave+pillow&qid=1610654287&sr=8-8

    the shape basically won't really allow you to front sleep, provides full neck support on your side and it will hold your head in place when you back sleep as it sinks in a bit. far better choice than a pile of standard pillows.

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