What is the Best Sleeping Position?
Everyone has a sleeping position that they swear by — whether it’s on their back, stomach, side (the obviously superior position), at a diagonal, or sprawled over their bed in random directions. And, although how you sleep may seem insignificant, your sleeping position can actually impact the quality of your sleep and your health. So, to prevent you from wrecking havoc on your spine or keeping your loved ones awake with your horrific snoring, here is some information about each sleeping position and which one might be best for you.
Sleeping on Your Side
Arguably the most comfortable sleeping position (in my opinion, at least), side sleeping has many benefits, especially for those with back pain, acid reflux, or sleep apnea (a condition in which, when you sleep, your breathing ceases and then resumes). By sleeping on your side, your airways are open, your head is aligned, and your esophagus is elevated, which prevents these issues.
Unfortunately, if you value your beauty sleep or curl into the fetal position when you sleep on your side, you might have some problems. Sleeping on your side can cause facial wrinkles since your head is on its side, allowing your skin to sag in one direction. And, in a tight fetal position, your diaphragm can be restricted — which impairs your breathing — and arthritis in the back or joints can be worsened.
For those of you stuck between sleeping on the right or left side, pick the left! If you sleep on your right side, your organs will press on each other and your stomach acid can travel up, causing discomfort, but, by sleeping on your left, you will alleviate pressure and prevent stomach acid from traveling instead.
Sleeping on Your Back
If you value your beauty sleep, back sleeping is for you. Since sleeping on your back evenly distributes weight on your face, which lessens sagging, wrinkles will be prevented. Another benefit is that lifting your head slightly and sleeping on your back prevents acid reflux.
However, don’t sleep on your back if you snore or have sleep apnea. Your tongue will create pressure, or even block your airways, which can worsen sleep apnea and snoring. And, for pregnant women, your risk for late pregnancy stillbirth is increased when you sleep on your back, according to a New Zealand study.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach sucks. A lot. The only benefit is that it prevents snoring and sleep apnea by opening your airways. That’s it.
Sleeping on your stomach can screw up your spinal alignment by allowing your core to sink into your mattress. This can cause back and neck pain. And, as your core sinks, more pressure is put on your muscles, joints, and organs, which can, of course, cause pain.
How to Improve Your Sleeping Position
If you’re hoping to improve your sleeping position, here are some tips:
- If you sleep on your side, make sure that your pillow allows your neck and head to stay aligned with your spine. To make your hips more comfortable, a pillow can be put between your knees.
- If you sleep on your back, a pillow should be placed beneath your knees to relieve any strain on your back. For your head pillow, make sure that it will keep your spine and neck in a neutral position.
- If you sleep on your stomach, please use a pillow that props your head up enough for you to breathe — and, you know, not suffocate. However, the pillow should also keep your face straight and facing down to prevent snoring, back pain, and neck pain. A pillow can also be put beneath your hips to prevent your core from sinking and ruining your poor spine.
It’s now up to you to decide what your best sleeping position is. In reality, all sleeping positions can be improved with the correct adjustments. Then, all that matters is how comfortable you are and how quickly you fall asleep in that position (however, if you still can’t decide, pick sleeping on your side because — obviously — it’s the superior position).
Barone, Jeanine. “5 Ways Your Sleeping Position Can Affect Your Health.” Berkley Wellness, Remedy Health Media, 21 Apr. 2016, www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-mind/sleep/article/5-ways-your-sleeping-position-can-affect-your-health. Accessed 9 Aug. 2018.
Gill, Stephen. “How should you sleep if you have lower back pain?” Edited by William Morrison. Medical News Today, Healthline Media, 10 Feb. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320870.php. Accessed 9 Aug. 2018.
McCowan, Lesley M. E., et al. Going to sleep in the supine position is a modifiable risk factor for late pregnancy stillbirth; Findings from the New Zealand multicentre stillbirth case-control study. PLOS, 13 June 2017. PLOS, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0179396. Accessed 9 Aug. 2018.
Wilson, Amelia. “What is the best sleeping position?” Tuck, 8 Jan. 2018, www.tuck.com/best-sleep-position/. Accessed 9 Aug. 2018.
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