Why and How to Prevent and Stop Supine Sleep (on the Back)
Module 6 (Part A). Best sleeping positions and supine sleep
Medical research (over 25
Western clinical studies) testifies about adverse effects of
supine sleeping on different groups of adults. These studies tested 100s of people for effects of different sleep positions, and found
that sleeping on the back leads to higher incidence of sleep paralysis
(with terrifying hallucinations), stroke, asthma, increased
airway resistance, and sleep apnea episodes: see best sleep positions for the summary and a separate page with abstracts and details of these studies.
Several of these studies found lowered blood oxygenation
for sleeping on the back. These abstracts are quoted in Module 6-B:
Sleep Positions. As a result, it is smart to stop and prevent supine sleep.
Benefits of the body-oxygen test for testing supine sleep
170 Soviet and Russian
practicalButeyko breathing medical doctors tested thousands of people with various health problems and
suggested that their body oxygen level (which is measured with the CP test - see instructions
in the link below) is the best ever-known health-state indicator.
These doctors intensively investigated sleep and its effects. They suggested
that supine sleep and mouth breathing during sleep are the key causes that
explain highest mortality rates in the severely sick, due to chronic diseases.
Buteyko doctors also discovered the
following order of sleeping positions for maximum health benefits (the best at
the top and the worst and the bottom):
- prone (or on one's chest)
- left side
- right side
- supine (see
the web page Sleep Positions for more
These doctors suggested using this body-oxygen test to
check different sleep positions. Perform this test after
sleeping in different sleeping positions. Note that you should spend about 10-15 minutes in a
certain position in order to achieve a stable metabolism correspondent to this
sleeping position before you can measure the effect of any sleeping position on
on the back causes the lowest body oxygenation since our breathing
is unrestricted: our belly and chest muscles can move without any
restrictions. As a result, sleeping on one's back intensifies breathing and
leads to appearance of the ineffective, heavy, and/or irregular breathing
you find that your body-oxygen content does not decrease (or maybe it even improves) after
sleeping on your back, you must sleep on the back all the time. However,
all people (who tried so far sleeping on their back) found that it causes
reduced body oxygenation and has the worst impact on health.
The only exception I have heard
about relates to American Indians who probably slept on their backs some 2-3
centuries ago, while propping their heads against a stone so that their chins
were pressing against their chests. If you try it, you can find that it is hard
to breathe in this position. Furthermore, their sleep was probably about 2 hours
due to around 3 min CP - see the Buteyko Table of Health Zones. When you get
over 60 s CP, you can sleep in any posture you like and you will have more
flexibility and freedom in you without negative health effects.
Dr. Buteyko and his colleagues about sleeping on back
Many severely sick patients remain sitting up, afraid to lie down.
This is sensible. We should lie down only for a minimum amount of time, and
only when sleeping. Our patients with deep breathing practice [breathing
exercises], but cannot control their breathing at night, and hence, sleep is
actually a poison for them. The longer he sleeps, the more chances that his
breathing will be increased causing attacks. Therefore, we wake him up after
1-2 hours, he practices decreasing respiration...
asthmatics, or the deep-breathing children turn themselves over on the tummy
during sleep. And here it begins: the parents are on guard, the fight goes on,
sometimes for years. The child turns on the tummy hiding its head under the
pillow, but no, they turn him over to face up. Again and again he tries to
rescue [himself], but they will not give in. There is no rest for him, nor for
the others. And if we take a child sick with asthma, he sleeps on his back and
wheezes. He turned on his tummy, the wheezing disappears in a minute. [He is]
again on his back: in a minute the wheezing starts again.
Their clinical observations suggest that supine sleeping, for many sick people with COPD, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc., means about twice as much breathing
and a corresponding drop in the morning CP (the main number that reflects one's health). This often causes acute symptoms during early morning
hours and even death (highest mortality) in severely sick people.
Hence, Dr. Buteyko and his medical colleagues who practiced
the Buteyko breathing method, and their numerous
patients used variety of tools, methods and techniques
to stop or prevent sleeping on the back.
1. Some people were sleeping with a backpack to prevent turning on the back.
This is one (“awkward”) option.
2. It is possible to prop oneself from the sides with pillows.
3. Another option is to sew a pocket on the back of your night shirt and put
a tennis ball there.
4. Or one can take a sock and wrap it around the middle of a belt making a
knot. The belt can be positioned around the middle of the chest with the knot on
the back of the person. The knot should be big enough to prevent the person from
sleeping on the back and it would not wake the person up since it is soft.
There is now even a better solution (Remedy No. 5) that is simple and effective. Hundreds of my students applied this method on themselves with great results. You can find out this remedy right below here as your bonus content.
Tweet or Share this page to reveal the bonus content.
Practice of Buteyko breathing teachers shows that sleeping on the back is a sign of low
body-oxygen levels. This problem
is present when the CP is about 20 s or less. Once, your morning CP is over 25
s, you are very unlikely to sleep on your back at all naturally and there is no need to
use any of these anti-supine sleep techniques.