Are you aware that how you sleep can have an effect on your overall health? We all tend to have a favorite sleeping position, and this tends to be a matter of preference. As you spend a whole lot of time in your life asleep (around a third) you should understand the different sleeping positions and how they can affect your health. Below are the most common sleeping positions and what they are doing to your body.
This is one of the least common sleeping positions worldwide, meaning if you are a back sleeper, you are a rare breed. This is actually the most optimal sleeping position, as it keeps the body’s natural alignment and the weight distributed equally whilst we sleep. This is the perfect position to reduce pressure, which is one of the main reasons we wake and fidget in the night. Sleeping on your back is bound to give you a great, interrupted sleep.
If you often suffer with stiffness or chronic pain, back sleeping is your best option although it may take some getting used to. If you suffer with neck pain, back sleeping won’t have a good effect on this and should be avoided. Those who suffer with acid reflux may benefit from this sleeping position, as it can reduce symptoms in the night, but only if the head is higher than the stomach. Invest in a good pillow for this. Finally, back sleeping can reduce wrinkles caused by having our face to a pillow and may also reduce acne. Those with sleep apnea should never sleep on their back.
Stomach sleepers beware as sleeping like this poses the most health risks. The only time stomach sleeping should be used is to reduce snoring or sleep apnea symptoms if you simply cannot tolerate sleeping on your side. Stomach sleepers may find an increase in back and neck pain, as this is an unnatural position for the spine, especially for 7-8 hours at a time. Those looking to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles would be best staying out of this pose, as your face is constantly pushed in towards the pillow. If you are struggling to change sleeping positions, it may be down to a bad mattress. A mattress that provides firm support can help with sleeping in a side or back position.
This is one of the more common sleeping positions and one of the best (after back sleeping, of course). For those snorers or anyone who suffers with sleep apnea, sleeping on your side can reduce symptoms and give your partner a better night’s sleep too. For those with neck or back pain, side sleeping may be more comfortable and take the pressure off your spine overnight. Through the night, your brain clears waste and this is most easily done when side sleeping. This clearing of waste includes flushing harmful toxins which can lead to brain diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The side you sleep on will also affect your health. Right side sleeping is worse for those with acid reflux, whilst sleeping on your left side may benefit. If you are pregnant, your doctor should advise you to sleep on the left side, as this reduces the pressure on the heart and will improve circulation overnight. Side sleepers are more at risk of wrinkles as they have their heads on the pillows, applying pressure to the face. You may move around more too, as you stop circulating blood flow into your arm.
The Fetal Sleeper
The most popular sleep position with women, this is another way of sleeping on the side but in a much more “curled-up” position. The fetal sleeper tends to get the same health benefits of side sleepers, such as less pressure on the back and less snoring, but sleeping like this could lead to more stiffness, as you are curling up tightly for 7-8 hours a night. Your breathing may also be affected by this because your diaphragm cannot function the same and your lungs don’t have the same amount of space to expand. Fetal sleepers can improve their sleep by using a pillow, which will prevent your body from curling too tight.
Hopefully, this will give you an insight into how your sleeping position is affecting your health. Opting to change sleeping position will take time and practice but it may provide a better night’s sleep and better health benefits.