Finding the best sleeping position for a deviated septum can feel impossible at times. Nothing seems to help you get the quality sleep you require, no matter how much you toss and turn. Don't worry if that sounds familiar; you're not alone.
Nasal septal deviations are said to affect up to 65% of the population, with some reports claiming as many as 70% - 80%. While many people with minor deviations can sleep without issue, countless others find that it has a significant negative impact on their sleep quality.
Of course, surgery is the most obvious and beneficial solution, but if you're not ready for that just yet, there's a lot you can do to improve your nightly sleep, including changing your sleeping position. We've compiled everything you need to know about sleeping with a deviated septum as part of our ultimate guide to the best sleeping positions.
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The term deviated septum refers to a condition where the thin line of cartilage in the middle of the nose (known as the nasal septum) deviates more to one side than the other. This means that one nostril ends up bigger than the other. For some people, this is hardly an issue; for others, it can cause severe problems, including:
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Sinus infections are a primary symptom of a deviated septum. That in itself can cause enough sleep disruptions to not only keep us up all night but also impact our quality of life, resulting in further problems like impaired cognitive function and depression. There’s a strong link between mental health and sleep quality, with depression, in particular, having a bidirectional relationship with sleep.
In other words, depression can disrupt our sleep, which makes the depression worse, which disrupts sleep even further, and so on in an endless cycle. So, you can see how quickly a deviated septum can cause a spiral of problems that affect our quality of life and sleep, but sinus infections are far from the only issue.
Breathing difficulties are a common problem caused by nasal septum deviations. If you have a severely deviated septum, it may block one side of the nose entirely. This obstruction can cause snoring, which can disrupt not only our sleep but also the sleep of those we live with.
Despite what you may have heard, a deviated septum doesn’t directly cause sleep apnea. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a link between the two.
It’s certainly true that sleep-disordered breathing is higher in people with deviated septums, though rather than causing the problem in the first place, what actually happens is that the restriction of your nasal passage makes an existing airway obstruction even worse. To put that another way: nasal septum deviations can exacerbate Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which is one of the most common causes of poor-quality sleep.
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If you’re having trouble sleeping with a stuffy nose, a deviated septum may be the reason. A deviated septum limits proper airflow through the nostrils, causing nasal congestion and can likewise be the case of post-nasal drip, both of which can impact sleep quality. It can also cause a myriad of other issues that may affect your ability to rest well, including headaches and nosebleeds.
Whether you’re dealing with a deviated septum, struggling to sleep with neck pain, or dealing with any other issue that’s impacting your ability to rest well, the truth is that the best sleeping position is whatever happens to make you the most comfortable. So, while the three positions we’re about to suggest may be the most conducive to quality sleep, if you find that one doesn’t work for you, there’s no problem with switching up to a different position or modifying our suggestions to what works for you.
Sleeping on your side is often said to be the best all-around sleeping position for most health-related issues, with the left side, in particular, proving to be the most beneficial of all. Lying on your left can improve blood flow and help you increase oxygen levels, ultimately helping to reduce the severity of any sleep apnea issues that may be heightened by your deviated septum as well as minimizing snoring.
You may find that sleeping on your left is of no help whatsoever. In fact, if it’s your left-nostril that is blocked in the first place, it may even make things worse. If that’s the case for you, simply switch over to your right. After all, while left-side sleeping may be the number one best sleep position for a deviated septum, sleeping on your right-hand side can be almost as good. It still helps to keep your airways open so that you can breathe easier, making it a great option if you’re usually a heavy snorer.
If your nasal septum deviation is causing nasal congestion, you may find that lying on your back with your head elevated is the most helpful sleeping position. Lying in this ensures that gravity works in your favor rather than against you, helping to properly drain your nasal passages so that you feel less bunged up and able to sleep better. The one downside to this is that sleeping on your back is known to increase snoring and sleep apnea episodes. If those are issues that you’re struggling with, you may find it easier to stick with side sleeping.
Regardless of whether you sleep on your left or your right, it’s important to maintain a proper position to keep your spine in alignment so that you don’t wake up with back pain. To do this, sleep with your knees slightly bent towards your tummy and a pillow tucked between them. This pillow will help to keep you in the best position for proper spinal posture, while a second pillow placed at your lower back will not only help you to feel more comfortable but may also help to stop you from rolling over in the middle of the night.
Changing your sleep position may be one of the most helpful things you can do to improve the way you sleep with a deviated septum, but it’s far from the only thing. Here are a few helpful things you can try to make your quality of sleep even better.
More than anything else, talking to your doctor may be the best way to stop a deviated septum from causing interrupted sleep. Though surgery may be recommended in severe cases, there are a wealth of less extreme treatments out there which may be just as effective, including nasal steroids, nasal dilators, and similar products. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best course of treatment for you.
Your bedroom is a haven for dust, dust mites, and other pollutants that can affect the air quality in your bedroom. While this doesn’t directly make your deviated septum worse, it can make your breathing worse, which is the last thing you need if your deviation is already causing you breathing-related sleep difficulties. As such, be sure to wash all bed linen at least once a week, preferably at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also want to regularly vacuum your carpets and dust any surfaces.
Sticking with the subject of air quality, bringing a humidifier into the bedroom can make a big difference to your ability to sleep well. Dry air in the bedroom can cause crusts to form in your nose while you sleep. If your nasal passages are already restricted by your septum deviation, this is only going to cause more problems. When you use a humidifier, you add moisture to the air and help maintain the best humidity for quality sleep.
There are a few more important things to avoid before bed than alcohol. Whether you have a deviated septum or not, alcohol can negatively impact our quality of sleep, make sleep apnea episodes worse in terms of both duration and severity, and generally exacerbate many of the symptoms of nasal septum deviations.
So, while a glass of wine or two may help you relax on an evening, it’s a good idea to leave it alone until your deviated septum issues have been properly treated.
Problems caused by a deviated septum can feel worse at night as certain sleeping positions can further restrict airflow and make nasal congestion more pronounced, which leads to loud snoring and other sleep issues.
Though fixing a deviated septum through septoplasty surgery can certainly help improve sleep quality, it won’t solve related problems such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) which occur independently of a deviated septum but can be worsened by it.
The best way to sleep after septoplasty surgery is on your back with your head elevated. This can help to reduce pain and inflammation as well as improve sleep quality so that you can heal quicker.
If you’ve read this entire guide, you’ll have learned not only the best sleep position for a deviated septum but also why a deviated septum may be keeping you up at night in the first place. You’ve also learned how things like your bedroom environment and alcohol intake can impact your quality of sleep.
Yet if there’s only one key piece of information you take away today, let it be our advice about consulting your doctor if the symptoms are having a detrimental impact on your quality of life and ability to sleep. After all, while deviated septums may not be a problem for some people, others will require treatment to tackle the problem and improve the way you both sleep and live. A medical professional is the best person to determine the severity of your condition and, if necessary, prescribe an appropriate course of treatment.
In the meantime, for more recommendations on how to enjoy the best possible sleep, see our guide to the benefits of maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, or check out this guide to discover how much sleep you actually need to stay fit and healthy.
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For more information about the cost of septoplasty in Iran and to schedule an appointment in advance, you can contact Iranian Surgery consultants via WhatsApp number 0098 901 929 0946. This service is completely free.