According to a 2016 study, sleep apnea is associated with forward head posture. I do a talk on sleep and every once in a while I like to look for relevant studies on sleep issues including sleep apnea. This study is from 2016 and somehow I missed it in my previous searches.
Sleep apnea is a condition where a person basically doesn’t breathe while they are sleeping. Or a person’s breathing is not normal, it stops and starts, during sleep resulting in a decrease in oxygen getting into their body. Oxygen, as we all know, is very important for life. So to go without breathing during the time when our body is going through a significant repair cycle while we sleep could have huge implications on our health. The most common form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) it occurs when there is an obstruction to the airway due to some tissue getting in the way because of a relaxation of the muscles in the throat. Central sleep apnea is due to the brain not communicating well with the body causing you to stop breathing while you sleep.
OSA can be caused by obesity, congestion from a illness, being a smoker increases your risk, as does alcohol consumption. It is commonly treated by wearing a dental apliance while you sleep or a device called a CPAP machine. This is a continuous positive airway pressure machine it delivers delivers air pressure through a mask while you sleep to keep your airway open. You have probably seen these things, it is a mask you put over your nose connected to basically an air compressor. Surgery to remove excess tissue from the airway is a less common treatment for when other options have failed.
Back to the study. In this study the authors took 75 people with sleep apnea complaints and put them through a sleep test. They also had 25 people with no complaints of sleeping problems as a control, they too went through a sleep test. The authors examined x-rays for all participants necks. Their results showed an association between forward head posture and severity of sleep apnea. Not only did they note a connection between forward head posture and sleep apena but the worse the forward head posture, the worse the measure sleep apnea was.
We have found, time and again, that head posture contributes to symptoms, including things like blood flow to the brain and brain to body communication through the nervous system. This is another area where, by, correcting the head posture we can improve someones ability to get a better night sleep by reducing their sleep apnea issue. I talk more on sleep apnea at my sleep disorder talk which I give in the office about once a year and out of the office to whoever wants to hear it. If you have problems with getting a good nights sleep, make an effort to hear this talk.