Recent studies have revealed that the way in which you sleep may affect your intraocular pressure (IOP).
Researchers at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. found that sleeping on a wedge-shaped pillow that elevates the head 20 degrees reduces night-time IOP, which would thereby help control or reduce the risk of glaucoma and glaucoma-related vision problems.
The study was completed on individuals with and without glaucoma. All participants were evaluated while sleeping on two occasions: in one session, the participants slept lying flat on their backs with no pillow; in the second, they were asked to sleep on a wedge-shaped pillow that elevated their head no more than 20 degrees from the bed. Baseline IOP was measured prior to sleep, and then at two-hour intervals during a sleep period lasting six hours. The results revealed no major difference in IOP between the two sleep positions during the baseline (awake) measurement for either group. However, during the sleep period, the mean IOP measurement was significantly lower in the session where the participants slept with their head raised on the wedge-shaped pillow. This difference was detected in both the glaucoma and normal group of participants, with the IOP being 1.56 mm Hg lower in the glaucoma group and 1.47 mm Hg lower in the normal group.
Overall, the researchers concluded that there are definite benefits to sleeping with the head elevated 20 degrees compared to the supine position, as the elevated sleep position reduces night-time IOP measurements in glaucoma and non-glaucoma subjects alike.