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Compression Stockings Help Sleep Apnea Patients Sleep Better

Women putting on compression socks

When you think about sleep apnea your brain probably strays pretty far from your feet. Especially since sleep apnea affects your breathing during sleep. So, what do your feet have to do with any of that? Well, you’re in for a surprise because compression stockings help sleep apnea. That’s right, simply wearing a different type of sock during the day could bring you tons of relief at night.

How Compression Stockings Help Sleep Apnea

The Fluid Collection Issue

Compression stockings are used to help those with poor circulation because if your blood doesn’t properly flow it can pull and cause edema as fluid to collects in certain areas, such as the legs. This is very dangerous as it can lead to blood clots and strokes.

Symptoms of edema or fluid collecting in your body’s tissues include swelling of the legs, hands, ankles, or arms, increased abdominal size, stretched or shiny skin, skin that retains dimples, and more.

Throughout the day this fluid can shift to your neck, increasing the size of your soft tissue, causing Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) to become worse. OSA is the condition in which your breathing suddenly stops multiple times during the night due to your airways becoming narrowed or blocked as the soft tissue around your throat collapses.

As your neck collects more fluid and becomes heavier, it’s more likely to cause your airways to collapse during the night.

The Compression Solution

recent study by Dr. Stefania Redolfi suggests that compression stockings help sleep apnea by getting rid of some of the excess fluid as they gently squeeze your veins to prevent blood from flowing backward and collecting.

Volunteers participating in the study were observed during their sleep and had changes in their leg fluid volume and neck circumference recorded.

Those who were randomly chosen to wear compression stockings during the day experienced an average fluid reduction of 62% compared to those who didn’t wear the support stockings. Also, the amount that their neck circumference was reduced by 62% which equaled a 36% decrease in sleep apnea events during rest.

When a sleep apnea patient inquired about this study, a patient with lymphedema responded, “I have primary lymphedema and sleep apnea. Been using compression 23\7 and my CPAP and notice a huge difference in the quality of life.”

A separate study hypothesized fluid from the legs shift to the neck and contributes to obstructive sleep apnea. The study found wearing below the knee compression socks decrease obstructive sleep apnea severity modestly!

Don’t Stop Using Your CPAP

Even though wearing compression stockings during the day can help with sleep apnea, you still want to use your CPAP for Sleep Apnea. It’s the most effective treatment option because it sends a constant flow of air through your airways during the night to keep them open.

Other activities that help sleep apnea include:

  • Making healthy lifestyle choices such as incorporating exercise and healthier food options into your diet to help you lose weight.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol six hours before bed.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Don’t self-medicate with sleeping pills or take allergy medicine before bed.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back.

More About Compression Stockings

Pressure stockings are used to help a variety of conditions from diabetes, varicose veins, blood clots, postpartum edema, lymphedema, and more. Along with improving blood circulation compression stockings also reduce swelling and pain.

Your doctor will prescribe compression stockings if you need them for any reason. They will also measure your legs to determine what size and amount of pressure you need for daily use. Compression stockings with a lower pressure setting usually don’t require a doctor’s prescription.

It’s best to put your stockings on as soon as you wake up in the morning. If you walk around a little first your legs may swell, making it more difficult to put your support stockings on. However, you will have to remove them shower. Then wear them all day until you’re ready for bed. Do not sleep in your compression socks!

We’re Here To Help

If you need an at-home sleep apnea test, CPAP supplies, compression stockings, or anything in between, we’re here to help. Simply contact one of our dedicated support specialists to discuss your options and have all your sleep apnea questions answered. Your medical equipment may be covered by insurance and we will handle the entire process to make sure what you need is shipped directly to your door.

Additional Sources

  1. Influence of Lower Body Positive Pressure on Upper Airway Cross-Sectional Area in Drug-Resistant Hypertension

Information provided on the Aeroflow Health blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care. Aeroflow Health recommends consulting a doctor if you are experiencing medical issues or concerns.


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