Did you know that there is a specific type of sleep apnea known as positional sleep apnea? This type of sleep apnea is possibly alleviated with the help of something called a “bumper belt”.
To further your understanding regarding the relationship between bumper belts and positional sleep apnea, in this article we will discuss:
- What positional sleep apnea is
- What a bumper belt is and how it helps positional sleep apnea
- Scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of bumper belts
- The best brands of bumper belts in the market.
What is Positional Sleep Apnea?
Positional sleep apnea is sleep apnea that is worsened when the patient lies down on his or her back, but is somewhat relieved when the patient switches to sleeping on his or her side. The reason for positional sleep apnea is because the tissues of the patient’s throat collapse further when the patient is lying on his or her back. During side-sleeping, the collapse of the tissues is not as prominent, and there are no or lesser occurrences of apnea episodes. Usually patients with positional sleep apnea suffer only from mild to moderate sleep apnea.
What is a Bumper Belt and How Does It Work?
A bumper belt is a vest-like item that you wear on your upper body. On the back of the bumper belt, there are inflatable bag-like structures that when inflated, prevents you from rolling onto your back. With this belt on, you are forced to sleep on your side; for sufferers of positional sleep apnea, this can mean heavy relief from your symptoms. Even if you somehow manage to roll onto your back with the bumper belt on, it would be severely uncomfortable to sleep in that position. Therefore, a bumper belt can potentially be very useful in keeping positional sleep apnea under control. It can also be helpful to snorers who snore when they are on their back.
Scientific Evidence Supporting Bumper Belt Usage and Sleep Apnea
The scientific evidence regarding bumper belts is limited to one study carried out using bumper belts and testing the difference experienced by patients over one night while wearing the belt. In the study participants (who were all sufferers of positional sleep apnea) were asked to either wear a bumper belt or wear a CPAP during one night. It was found that the bumper belt was just as effective as the CPAP in normalizing respiration and improving sleep quality in patients with positional obstructive sleep apnea.
Best Brands of Bumper Belts
There are currently two brands of bumper belts that are well-known in the market, namely the Zzoma bumper belt and the Rematee bumper belt.
ZZoma Bumper Belt
The Zzoma bumper belt is the only FDA- approved bumper belt available currently. This bumper belt is only available for purchase with a prescription, so your doctor will need to give you a prescription if you decide to buy this. The Zzoma bumper belt has elastic sides so that the patient can breathe comfortably, and has a unique wedge-like shape. You may also get a reimbursement from your insurance provider when you purchase this belt; however, not all insurance companies will do so, though some will. You will have to check with your insurance company if they will reimburse you.
Here are some reviews from Amazon for this bumper belt (reviews were taken from when the belt was available for direct purchase without a prescription; it is no longer available for sale on Amazon):
- “….The Zzoma is a really good product and has really added to my quality of life as a person with sleep apnea and loud snoring….”
- “….The best product on the market- period! I snored very badly when I slept on my back and was diagnosed by a doctor as having positional sleep apnea. A tennis ball sewn into your t-shirt or inflatable bubble blown into a t-shirt will sometimes wake you if you turn over onto your back but the Zzoma device never lets you get on your back in the first place. I have tried it all and Zzoma keeps me off of my back all night long I can get a consistent good nights sleep….”
- “….My pulmonologist recommended the Zzoma because I only have sleep apnea when I’m sleeping on my back. I have been using Zzoma and am going to schedule a sleep study to make sure that it is helping me with the sleep apnea. Zzoma does help you to stay on one side or the other while sleeping. It’s a bit cumbersome, as I am only 5’1″, but I detest the C-Pap machine and would rather use Zzoma…”
Rematee Bumper Belt
The Rematee bumper belt is made from neoprene, and comes in three sizes (medium, large, and extra large). If the largest size isn’t adequate for the patient, extension straps can be purchased to enable wear. The inflatable bumpers are deflatable when you need to take it for travelling, and the whole belt is machine-washable for convenience. You don’t need a prescription to purchase a Rematee bumper belt.
Many consumers are very satisfied with the Rematee bumper belt, and here are some of the reviews from the manufacturer’s website:
- “…Have used the Bumper Belt since 2011. It has literally changed my life. With positional apnea, I would wake up feeling sleep deprived and fuzzy headed most mornings. Am approaching 2 years now and the difference is marked. I am more productive, full of energy and the migraine headaches are gone…”
- “…My doctor recommended this to me as a last-ditch effort to help get my sleep apnea under some semblance of control. The belt works very well in that it stops me and/or wakes me up when I try to roll over on my back. Several times I have awakened on my back, realized what the problem is, and then roll back over on my stomach, my most comfortable position…”
- “…I have been using – to my great satisfaction – the ‘bumper belt’ device for more than six weeks and find it very helpful for a good night’s sleep. It’s easy to use, easy to get on and off, and pretty much what I expected and needed. Thanks!…”
If you are suffering from positional sleep apnea, the most convenient (and possibly most comfortable) device you may try to get your sleep apnea under control would most probably be the bumper belt. The bumper belt may have a very simple mechanism, but it can certainly help you from rolling onto your back and worsening your sleep apnea. As with any sleep apnea aid, be sure to get the okay from your doctor before making any changes to your treatment regime. If you have severe sleep apnea and are on the CPAP, do not stop using it without your doctor’s permission even if you start using a bumper belt.