The role of sleep position in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2006 Oct;263(10):946-50. doi: 10.1007/s00405-006-0090-2. Epub 2006 Jun 27.


We analyzed the role of sleep position in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). The polysomnograms of 120 patients with sleep apnea syndrome were analyzed. We associated the apnea hypopnea index (AHI) of the supine position with the AHI of the other positions. Patients were stratified in a group of positional patients (PP) (AHI supine >or= 2 x AHI other positions) and a group of non-positional patients (NPP). In 55.8% of our patients, OSAS was position dependent. PP patients were significantly (6.7 years) younger. BMI and AHI were higher in the NPP group, but the difference was not significant. Level of obstruction in the upper airway (retropalatinal vs retrolingual vs both levels) as assessed by sleep endoscopy was not significantly different between the two groups. Total sleep time (TST) was equal in both groups, but the average time in supine position was 37 min longer in the PP group. This study confirms the finding that in more than 50% of patients, OSAS is position dependent. Apart from age, no patient characteristics were found indicating the position dependency. Overall AHI does not identify positional OSAS.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric