The effect of the prone sleeping position on obstructive sleep apnoea

Acta Otolaryngol. 2015 Jan;135(1):79-84. doi: 10.3109/00016489.2014.962183. Epub 2014 Nov 11.


Conclusions: Prone positioning reveals promising results in improving the apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI) and oxygen desaturation index (ODI) in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Objective: To evaluate the effect of the prone position on OSA.

Methods: Thirty-two patients with mild to severe OSA were included in the study. This was a two-night study to evaluate the effect of the prone position on OSA; a first night in a normal bed with optional positioning and a second night on a mattress and pillow facilitating prone positioning.

Results: A total of 27 patients, 22 males and 5 females, with a mean age of 51 years, 15 patients with positional OSA (POSA) and 12 patients with non-POSA with a total median AHI of 23 (min 5, max 93) completed the study protocol. The median AHI decreased from 23 to 7 (p < 0.001) and the median ODI from 21 to 6 (p < 0.001). The median time spent in the supine position decreased from 142 to <1 min (p < 0.0001) and the median time in the prone position increased from <1 to 330 min (p < 0.0001). In all, 17 of 27 patients (63%) were considered to be responders to prone positioning, 12 of 15 (80%) with POSA and 5 of 12 (42%) with non-POSA. Five patients did not complete the study protocol due to sleep time <4 h.

Keywords: Positional treatment; conservative; lateral and supine sleep positions; mattress and pillow for prone positioning; non-invasive; non-surgical treatment; polysomnographic sleep study; prone; respiratory parameters.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Beds
  • Cohort Studies
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Prone Position*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome