Best Sleep Positions
Best Sleep Positions
Sleep is essential to our overall health and wellness. Some sleeping positions are better than others for different reasons. You may know what’s it like to have accidentally slept in a position you’re not used to, and woke up in pain the next morning. This can be common because the position you sleep in is going to affect the curvature of your spine, and the pressure on your joints.
It’s important to understand the benefits of different sleep positions so you can maximize your rest and promote healthier sleep cycles. We each sleep about one-third of our entire lives. That’s a long time to be spending in a fixed position that can either work for you or against you.
What is the Best Sleeping Position?
The best sleep position for you is going to depend on a few different factors. You want to sleep in a position that is going to support the natural curvature and alignment of your spine. You also want to sleep in a position that doesn’t aggravate any individual health concerns you may have.
Women how are pregnant or people with sleep conditions like sleep apnea may benefit from specific sleeping positions. Not all sleep positions are equally as healthy. Sleeping on your side, or your back are the most common and most recommended sleep positions by sleep professionals. Sleeping on your stomach is considered the least effective sleeping position.
Although, if you prefer to sleep on your stomach, you don’t have to stop. There are things you can do to improve the stomach sleeping position. These can include sleeping on the right mattress or putting a pillow under your stomach to improve the alignment of your spine and reduce your risk of waking up in pain. There are studies that have shown that changing your sleep position can reduce back pain.
Sleeping on Your Side
Sleeping on your side is the most common sleeping position. A national sleep survey reported that 74% of people prefer the side sleeping position. Sleeping on your side has also been said by sleep experts to be the healthiest position to sleep in. This is because there are so many benefits to sleeping on your side.
Benefits to Sleeping on Your Side
Healthy Spine Alignment: Sleeping on your side promotes the natural curvature of your spine. Keeping your spine healthy is important for long-term flexibility and mobility which is why it’s so important to consider.
Improves Brain Health: Scientific research indicates that sleeping on your side assists in the removal of brain waste. This physiological process helps keep your brain in good health.
Reduces Heartburn: One study found that sleeping on your side helps reduce heartburn. This makes it the best sleeping position if you experience heartburn frequently or have problems with acid reflux.
Reduces Snoring: Another study on side sleeping showed it reduces snoring. This makes sleeping on your side one of the best sleep positions for people who may super from sleep apnea.
Disadvantages of Sleeping on Your Side
Shoulder Pain: Sleeping on your side can lead to shoulder pain in some individuals. For this reason, it’s recommended that you switch between sides or different sleeping positions to avoid shoulder pain.
Wrinkles: Side sleeping is also associated with facial wrinkles. Sleeping on your side causes your face to push into the pillow, which can pull and stretch the skin. Although this isn’t a serious disadvantage to be concerned about, it is important to some people. Sleeping on your back is the best way to avoid wrinkling the face.
Which Side Should You Sleep On?
The left side is said to be the best side to sleep on. It encourages healthy blood flow and circulation, which is why sleeping on your left side is recommended for women who are pregnant. It also improves digestion which reduces your chances of acid reflux. Sleeping on your right side has been associated with increased pressure on organs, and an increased risk of acid reflux. If you already sleep on your side or are interested, be sure to check out our Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers.
Sleeping on Your Back
Sleeping on your back is the second most common sleeping position. Although it does have some health benefits to take advantage of, sleeping on your back is not recommended for people with sleep apnea or acid reflux. Sleeping on your back is known to worsen the symptoms of these two conditions and side sleeping is recommended as an alternative.
Benefits of Sleeping on Your Back
Spinal Health: Although side sleeping can benefit your spinal health, sleeping on your back can too. Because you’re lying on a flat surface, your spine rests naturally. This discourages your spine from getting stuck in awkward positions while you sleep.
No More Stuffy Nose: It can be hard to sleep with a cold, especially when you have a stuffy nose and can’t breathe well. While lying flat on your back has been proven to increase nasal congestion, sleeping on your back while using pillows to slightly elevate your upper back and head can help your nose drain, and improve your breathing.
Disadvantages of Sleeping on Your Back
Pregnant Women: Women who are pregnant are not recommended to sleep on their back. Weight from the baby can put excessive pressure on organs and reduce healthy blood flow and circulation.
Sleep Apnea: People who suffer from sleep apnea can worsen their symptoms by sleeping on their back. This is why side sleeping is recommended for people with sleep apnea.
Acid Reflux: People who experience acid reflux during the night, or have been diagnosed with GERD, are also discouraged from sleeping on their back as it can worsen symptoms. Sleeping on your side is recommended.
Should you Sleep on Your Back?
Whether or not sleeping on your back is right for you really depends on the health factors listed above. Sleeping on your back can also make it difficult to breathe if you’re overweight. However, if you don’t experience symptoms of sleep apnea or acid reflux, and you maintain a healthy weight, sleeping on your back could be the best sleeping position for you as long as you find it the most comfortable. If you’re a back sleeper then check out our Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers to find your perfect mattress.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is the least common sleeping position there is. According to a national sleep survey, only 16% of people report being stomach sleepers. This could be considered a good thing as sleeping on your stomach is associated with the most potential risks.
Benefits of Sleeping on Your Stomach
Reduces Snoring: There really aren’t any benefits to sleeping on your stomach, which is why it’s not recommended often. It may be able to help reduce snoring by opening your airway and making it easier to breathe but risk of putting unneeded pressure on your ribcage in this position can cancel out the benefit.
Disadvantages of Sleeping on Your Stomach
Pregnancy: Women who are pregnant are encouraged not to sleep on their stomachs, for somewhat obvious reasons. Sleeping on the stomach while pregnant can put too much pressure on the baby, as well as the mother’s internal organs. This is why pregnant women are encouraged to sleep on their sides.
Back Pain: Sleeping on your back is often associated with back pain. This is because the position doesn’t properly support the alignment of your spine. Sleeping on your stomach actually reverses the natural curvature of your spine, which can lead to both short and long-term spinal issues.
Neck Pain: When you sleep on your stomach, you have to turn your head to one side or the other. This places undue strain on your neck and is known for causing neck pain. If you don’t want your sleep position to be a pain in the neck, consider sleeping on your back or your side.
What If You Like Sleeping on Your Stomach?
If you do find that sleeping on your stomach is the best sleeping position for you, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing back or neck pain. Sleep experts at the Mayo Clinic advise the use of pillows to help support your spine and neck. You can place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to reduce the tension in your spine, to hopefully reduce back pain. They also recommend sleeping without a pillow under your head if you find that it causes you to wake up with neck pain. Look through our Best Mattresses for Stomach Sleepers to find the perfect fit for you.
The Final Verdict
Ultimately, deciding what the best sleep position is for you will be a matter of trial and error. We’ve learned that sleeping in the wrong position can cause long-term health problems, and can make symptoms of certain health conditions even worse. If you’re struggling with changing your sleep position, try using pillows to help support and train your body to sleep in a new position. When it comes to defining the best sleep position from a medical standpoint, side sleeping seems to be the winner. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever sleep in any other positions, just make sure the position you choose to sleep in is the best one for your unique situation.