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Apnea and rotator cuff surgery
RE: Apnea and rotator cuff surgery
If you must sleep on your side, you need a good mattress that correctly conforms to your body shape in each position - and yes ,after lots of testing, water beds are about the best we have found, but there are lots of spring mattresses and air enforced mattresses that also do a great job, and even multifoam mattresses, although I am not a fan of them. How do we know this? We developed a probe that follows the spine's alignment top to bottom and measures pressure and torsion as well, and tested 14 types of mattresses with our subjects, working with osteopaths and chiropractors and my ortho department to determine which sort of mattresses worked best with which sort of body types, and used a saline flotation tank as the reference device. One thing that became clear is that all mattresses need to be adjusted to the weight of the user and according to where each portion of their body is, so the shoulder and hips have more give than the mid section, for instance, and in Switzerland, you can get that done, so that one side of the bed is adjusted for the wife and the other side for the husband, for instance - it costs more, but for a 20 year investment, it is worth it. Another thing is that for side sleeping, besides having enough give in shoulder, a proper set of pillows are advised, so that the neck and head are in correct alignment to the shoulder girdle (this also affects quality of sleep and AHI, we have found). Beyond that, we have determined best technologies and types. This data (around 15 years old now) has since been used by various manufacturers to fine tune their offerings and improve their product line, such that certain manufactures now conform, within their own speciality area of manufacture, better to orthopaedic needs. But there is always variance according to body type and weight, and you need to get the right mattress for your body and weight. Same with pillows ( I am very strong on feather pillows, because they can more easily conform to head and neck than foam can, but there are new classes of foam that replicate goose down qualities now on the market, and these work very well as well).

Ideally, you should sleep on your back, but that is not an option for many SA patients, so the next best thing is to learn to roll over to each side over the night, the better to distribute the pressure. Sleeping with the lower arm extended 90 degrees from the body rather than under the body or bent up to rest under the head is better, as it relieves some pressure on the shoulder, and so does using a body pillow as it also acts a pressure relief.

I hope that helps.
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RE: Apnea and rotator cuff surgery
As for body pillows, I agree with the pressure-relief concept, and it is one of the reasons I love them.

As I am a known chronic tinkerer (see other posts), I have been trying something a bit unconventional lately.

Just before I get to that, I like the contoured memory-foam pillows, and have even tried a memory-foam body pillow in the past, but recently I got a new contoured one in hopes of making turning from side to side more of an option (rather than wrestling with the pillow each time, I put one on each side of me). Well, that didn't work out as well as I had hoped that it would.

But now I have three of the contoured mem-foam pillows. Body pillows have certain positive attributes; men-foam contour pillows have certain positive attributes, but neither have both sets of attributes.

So I got a wild-hair idea a couple weeks ago, and took all 3 of them and zipped them into a body-pillow cover. So the two largest ones lay end to end, and the smaller third one is on top of them, about 2/3rds of the way up. My head goes on the top one (softer); my legs go around the bottom one (firmer), and my arm goes around the middle one (which is on top of the other two, and is "just right"). For whatever reason, this is significantly better than any pillow or combination I have ever tried, especially in how it accommodates the mask. It's like sleeping on a cloud (with Kate Beckinsale).
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