The role of sleep position in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

  • Wietske RichardEmail author
  • Dennis Kox
  • Cindy den Herder
  • Martin Laman
  • Harm van Tinteren
  • Nico de Vries


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 ≥ 2 × 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.


Body position Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wietske Richard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dennis Kox
    • 1
  • Cindy den Herder
    • 1
  • Martin Laman
    • 2
  • Harm van Tinteren
    • 3
  • Nico de Vries
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck SurgerySt. Lucas Andreas HospitalAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of NeurophysiologySt. Lucas Andreas HospitalAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Biostatistics St. Lucas Andreas HospitalAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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