August 2020

Sleep Apnoea tips for getting a better nights sleep

Sleep apnoea or apnea can cause severe disruption to sleep patterns of both the sufferer and the other sleeping partner. Sleep apnoea is displayed as a breathing difficulty when sleeping such as being unable to breathe during the night. This can lead to excessive snoring due to difficulty in trying to breathe during sleep. The snoring forces the sleeper to take erratic breaths due to a lack of oxygen.

Telltale signs are loud snoring and infrequent pauses between breaths. Sleep apnoea is a serious condition that can affect your health, concentration, relationships and ultimately well being. This article will explain what sleep apnoea is and how you can take steps to achieve a better nights rest if you suffer from it. At the end of this, we will look at three real-life case studies that we have been able to help over the years.

Sleep apnoea mainly affects males who may be overweight and can seriously disrupt sleep patterns

What is sleep apnoea?

Apnoea means to cease breathing. Sufferers of sleep apnoea deal with this every problem every night. The airways partially close causing an obstruction to the regular breathing cycle. They cease to breathe at intervals and then force air into their lungs as a survival mechanism. This causes people with sleep apnoea to snore extremely loudly and infrequently.

Snoring is a bi-product of needing to force air through the throat and nasal passage which makes a loud distinctive sound during sleep. In the most part mild consistent snoring is a normal part of some peoples sleep cycles. However, when it becomes extremely loud and irregular it is also known as a life-threatening disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). Sleep apnoea can be identified by the following signs:

  • Very loud snoring during the night
  • Infrequent pauses between breaths during sleep such as struggling to breathe then letting out a loud snore when the breath is caught again
  • The feeling or sounds of choking
  • Excessive turning during the night

In most cases, the sufferer of sleep apnoea won’t necessarily know they have it. It is more likely that a sleeping partner will though, due to lost nights sleep and hearing the struggle an OSA suffer goes through every night.

OSA/sleep apnoea is more likely to affect

  • Middle-aged men
  • Women who have passed the menopause
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are predisposed to have a small airway or set back lower jaw
  • Those who have blocked nasal passages

What are the effects of sleep apnoea?

It's estimated that 1.5 million people in the UK suffer from sleep apnoea. With an increase in obesity and consumption of alcohol the amount of people that suffer from OSA has risen sharply over the past 10 years increasing by over 60% since 2007. The side effects of sleep apnoea are more than just a disturbed nights sleep for you and your partner. It also affects concentration throughout the day, can make you irritable, anxious and even depressed. Lack of sleep has a hugely detrimental effect on your health and well being. If you or a partner fit the criteria above we would always advise that you go and see a doctor and have a proper assessment of your snoring or sleep patterns. Other negative side effects are the risk of high blood pressure, heart failure and even sexual dysfunction in men. Other issues are experienced by partners sharing the bed with you. They often have very disruptive sleep patterns feeling tired and nauseous themselves due to broken sleep. It can also be incredibly unsettling for them to hear their partners gasping for breath during the night.
Sleep apnoea sufferers often have very disruptive sleep patterns feeling tired and nauseous themselves due to broken sleep

The key point is that these obstructions and disruptions may happen hundreds of times a night meaning that whilst you may be asleep its not restful sleep for you or your partner.

How can I treat sleep apnoea?

The first step should always be to seek medical help. Other steps would be to maintain a healthy weight and limit alcohol before bedtimes. In serious cases of OSA you may require a CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machine which helps you take consistent breaths throughout the night. This machine requires the user to wear a breathing mask that then regulates the flow of oxygen to the sleeper removing the obstruction to the airways when sleeping. It’s a specialist bit of machinery that needs medically prescribing in most cases always ask your doctor.

Mandibular devices can also help as this help realign your jaw to help keep your airways open rather than collapsing during the night. These need to be custom made by a specialist dentist but can help reduce mild OSA.  Again, a medical professional should be able to help.

Snoring mouth guard in blue
A mandibular device such as this one can help open the airways and reduce snoring

What’s the best mattress for someone with sleep apnoea?

Whilst a mattress itself is not going to solve OSA in sleepers it certainly can help with the alignment of the sleeper and provide a better nights sleep. Given that OSA and snoring are effected by posture during the night a supportive mattress that’s been customised to your weight can help massively in reducing disruptive sleep. Especially if you’re already receiving treatment for OSA or sleep apnoea. Mattresses that don’t have the correct levels of support will only lead to more disruption, tossing and turning. If wearing a CPAP machine of Mandibular device then this movement can become very uncomfortable and disturb your sleep.

The correct support based on your bodyweight is essential for sleep apnoea
The correct support based on your bodyweight is essential for sleep apnoea
Avoid foam and firmer mattresses which can aggravate your sleep
Avoid foam and firmer mattresses which can aggravate your sleep

Can a mattress cause sleep apnoea?

Chris got in touch with us as he thought he had developed mild sleep apnoea as his snoring was constantly waking himself up and his wife. However, when on holiday he found that sleeping in a hotel bed stopped the snoring immediately. He got in touch with us to ask our advice on whether the mattress he currently has, a Vispring Regal superb in a soft – medium spring tension.

He found that sleeping on firmer foam stopped his snoring but hurt his hips. This was the first clue we needed to be able to help Chris. It turns out that the soft Vispring mattress was actually causing him to sink too far into the mattress and thus leading to him snoring. Probably as a consequence of his airway being put in an unnatural position if his spine and neck are out of alignment. The good news is that Chris is now sleeping much better and that simple tweak to his mattress choice to an Artisan Bespoke for a firmer feel in the top upholstery layers pretty much resolved his snoring nightmare!

Sleep apnoea causing a disturbance during the night

Another side effect of OSA is that your sleeping partner is also often disturbed as much as you are during the night. This makes for a really frustrating sleep experience for all. With disturbance being common in people suffering from sleep apnoea it also means that transference in a mattress is all too common waking the other sleeper up. Transference is when movement in a mattress ‘transfers’ or ripples through the rest of the mattress particularly in foam or cage sprung models. Mary was suffering as her husband had sleep aponea and his movements kept waking her up. She was in quite a state when we spoke to her due to a lack of sleep.

Given her husband was 18 stone and she was much lighter at 7.5 stone it meant that she needed a split tension spring. We also recommended a zip and link mattress for Mary as this would further reduce transference as its effectively two separate mattresses joined seamlessly by a hidden zip. Perfect for restless sleepers. After much consultation with Mary, we recommended an Artisan Naturals mattress in a firm and soft spring tension split. Enabling Mary to have a mattress that accommodated her 9 stone weight and the firmer spring tension is ideal for sleepers who are 17 stone and above. Spring tension is often confused with ‘comfort’ and in reality, it’s the comfort laters that dictate the feel of the mattress. The spring tension is solely dictated by weight, more on that here.

What to look for in a mattress for sleep apnoea?

Whilst no mattress will cure sleep apnoea it is important that you choose the correct mattress to help minimise the mattress exacerbating the problem further. In fact, a new mattress alongside other apnea treatments can drastically improve your sleep. Saggy badly unsupportive mattresses can make your sleeping posture awkward and unnatural. Simply adding to the airway congestion that sleep apnoea relies on.

Tony was really suffering from his apnoea and had an old cage sprung mattress. Cage sprung mattresses are one massive spring so suffer from transference and a real lack of tailored support. They really are the worst choice of mattress for someone with a condition like sleep apnoea! Given Tony’s weight at 15 stone the correct spring tension was medium or 1.4mm gauge.

We recommended our Origins 1500 which has a medium feel in the deep upholstery layers and a medium gauge pocket spring support system. These pocket springs will allow Tony to make micro-adjustments throughout the night without waking his partner. The medium feel upholstery layers will allow him to sink in slightly before being supported so his airways have a better chance of working when coupled with his CPAP machine. No more sagging in the middle!

Origins 1500 mattress next to window
Matching your mattress to your body weight is the first step with choosing a mattress for sleep apnoea

Comparing the Best Mattress for Sleep Aponea

When searching online you may see articles which list the ‘best mattresses for sleep apnoea’ which can be very misleading. We have already established that there’s no single perfect mattress for a condition because mattress choices rely on understanding the support required for your bodyweight, comfort and sleeping preferences. Any retailer who points at a mattress and says ‘that’s good for sleep apnoea’ without asking your weight, height and other sleep issues will be simply misleading you.


Sleep apnoea is a really disruptive condition that affects an increasing number of people. It’s imperative you seek medical advice to help reduce the considerable side effects that is can cause for you and your partner. By choosing a mattress that is supportive for your bodyweight and allows you to move freely you can help experience a better nights sleep. If you’re being disturbed by a partner moving in the night with sleep apnoea then a zip and link model can significantly reduce this.

Why not get in touch with our small friendly team who can offer advice and support if your suffering from disturbed nights sleep? If you don’t feel like calling us on 0161 437 4419  you can email us on [email protected].

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