What is the best sleep position for your body?
Having a great day starts with having a good night’s rest. Keeping in mind that we spend a third of our lives in bed, you want to make sure that it is time well spent.
There are certain things you can do that can ensure you get the quality of sleep you deserve.
One of those things is controlling your posture when you sleep. The way you position yourself when you sleep can have a significant impact on the quality of sleep you get.
Sometimes, we wake up feeling groggy, tired and irritable with aches and pains even though we’ve had a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. According to sleep experts, bad sleeping posture is often the cause.
A bad sleep posture could play a major role in causing a stiff neck, back pain, poor circulation, headaches, heartburn, snoring, muscle cramping and even wrinkles!
In this article, you’re going to discover the best sleeping postures for your body, as well as the ones you’ll want to avoid if you want to get the refreshing sleep you deserve.
On your back
Sleeping on your back isn’t a very popular way to sleep. In fact, it is estimated that just 8 percent of people sleep on their backs because most people prefer to sleep on their sides.
However, sleep experts agree that sleeping on your back is the healthiest way to position yourself in bed because your back is kept straight and not forced into any unnatural, contorted positions.
Your head, neck and spine are resting in a neutral position, and you’ll minimize the strain on your body and aid it’s recovery from the exertions of the day. It’s also the best position for reducing aches and pain. It also doesn’t cause heartburn because your head is elevated above your chest.
Sleeping on your back is also known to prevent wrinkles
because you won’t be applying any pressure against your face. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends sleeping on your back to avoid premature facial aging. It is also the best position for keeping your breasts full and perky.
However, sleeping on your back is bad for people who typically suffer from snoring and sleep apnoea because it can trigger and actually exacerbate the conditions. These conditions will actually a bigger problem in these positions than in any other. If you snore, you may want to switch to another position.
In fact, according to Eric Olson, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., “Snoring is usually most frequent and severe when sleeping on the back.” Back sleeping is also closely linked to sleep apnoea, which is why doctors prescribe side sleeping as a treatment for the condition.
On your side
Sleeping on the side is a more popular sleep position than sleeping on your back. According to sleep experts, it is great for overall health. Snoring is diminished in this position because it keeps the airways open. Those who suffer from sleep apnea will find sleeping on their side to be ideal.
Since your airway is allowed to be more open, it is easier to breathe without having obstruction issues which is commonplace when sleeping on your back or stomach.
Sleeping on your side also prevents neck and back pain since your spine is elongated. This helps with spinal alignment. A properly fluffed pillow to support your head and neck can get your spine lined up very well so long as you’re able to keep your legs and torso straight. In addition, sleeping in this position improves circulation and helps decrease acid reflux.
Sleep experts recommend alternating between both sides in order to distribute pressure on your entire body. According to a study carried out by the University of San Francisco California, men who sleep on the same side throughout the night suffer from kidney stones. 75% of participants in the study had kidney stones exclusively on the site they were sleeping on.
Pros of sleeping on your left side include:
- Alleviates acid reflux and heartburn
- Boosts digestion
- Stimulates the drainage of toxins from the lymph nodes
- Improves circulation
- Helps your brain filter out waste.
You can only get these benefits from sleeping on the left sidedue to anatomy and the location of your body’s organs.
However, sleeping on your side is bad for your skin because your face is constantly pressed up against the pillow, and this can speed up the appearance of wrinkles. This posture also contributes to breast sag, thanks to the breasts dangling downward and stretching the ligaments.
Furthermore, many people who sleep on their side may keep their arm under them or under their head. This can cause you to wake up with that pins-and-needles sensation.
In the fetal position
Sleeping in the fetal position (where you’re curled up on your side, your back is curved, your knees are tucked in and your torso is hunched) is the most popular position especially among women, with 41 percent of adults choosing this option.
It is the recommended posture for pregnant women because it improves circulation to the growing baby and prevents your uterus from pressing against your liver. This pose is also particularly good for snorers because it promotes a clear, unobstructed airway and helps the body reach deep REM sleep.
However, it isn’t good for almost everybody else. It is bad for preventing neck and back pain and speeds up the appearance of wrinkles. Your spine and your neck are curved, your knees are bent for hours and all of that intense pressure could lead to arthritis or numbness. In addition, curling your body in this manner prevents the diaphragm from doing its job to the best of its ability. It is also not good for maintaining perky breasts due to the fact that your breasts are dangling downwards which may lead to breast sag.
If you find comfort in this sleeping position, sleep experts recommend putting a pillow between your legs and folding one leg while extending the other in order to relieve the pressure that you’re exerting on your pelvis. For your head, select an orthopaedic pillow that will support your spine and occupy the empty space that is between your shoulder and neck.
On your stomach
The overwhelming verdict from sleep experts, osteopaths and physiotherapists is that sleeping on your stomach is the worst position to sleep in because it can cause cervical and lumbar pain due to the pressure it puts on various parts of the body. Because it doesn’t support the natural curve of your spine, your spine arches inwards because it’s not in its natural position.
It also puts pressure on the muscles and joints because they are forced to carry the majority of your weight, potentially leading to numbness, tingling, aches and pains. You’re also forced to turn your head on your pillow in order to breathe. According to one medical research group, it is bad for your back because of the strain and pressure it places on your spine.
The pressure on the spine leads to increased stress on the rest of your body structure and to pain in all parts of the body.
Sleeping on your back may also cause neck problems due to the fact that you will have to turn your head to one side when sleeping. This leads to your neck being twisted, putting your spine and head out of sync – leading to potentially severe damage.
Sleeping on your stomach also speeds up the appearance of wrinkles and a drooping chest. Research shows that 7 percent of adults sleep on their stomach, but it is not a recommended way to sleep for most individuals.
It is particularly bad for pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy. According to a However, it is good for snorers because it can help to alleviate snoring.
According to a medical study from 2012, when a pregnant woman is sleeping on her left side, the healthy blood flow will be increased. This will provide the optimum levels of oxygen for both the baby and its mother.
If you’ve always slept on your stomach your whole life and want to continue to do so, the following tips will help you avoid complications:
- Put a pillow under your pelvis. This will keep your back in a more neutral position and take pressure off your spine.
- Choose a very firm bed with a mattress specifically designed for front sleepers.
- Use a thin pillow because the flatter the pillow the less angled your head and neck will be.