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The objective of this study was to assess whether cervical positioning could improve mild to moderate cases of the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). Eighteen subjects recruited from a tertiary sleep disorders clinic population with mild to moderate cases of OSAS were evaluated using a custom-fitted cervical pillow designed to increase upper airway caliber by promoting head extension. The subjects used their usual pillows during two consecutive recorded baseline nights in our laboratory. They then used the cervical pillow for 5 days at home and returned for 2 consecutive recorded nights at our laboratory to use the cervical pillow. During the nights in our laboratory, the subjects completed questionnaires, were videotaped to record head and body position, and had full polysomnography. The subjects had a significant trend toward improvement in their respiratory disturbance indices with use of the cervical pillow, despite spending more time in the supine position and having similar amounts of REM sleep in the baseline and experimental conditions. They also had nonsignificant trends toward improvements in their sleep efficiency and subjective depth of their sleep as well as significantly fewer arousals and awakenings in the experimental compared with the baseline condition. We propose that cervical positioning (i.e., head extension) with a custom-fitted cervical pillow provides a simple, noninvasive, and comfortable means of reducing sleep-disordered breathing in patients with mild to moderate OSAS.
View details for PubMedID 11868144