We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, so it comes as no surprise that many of us go to great lengths to create a nurturing, soothing sleep space where we can drift off to dream each night. Careful selection of mattress, bedding, coverings, room décor and overall environment all factor into how easily we fall asleep and stay asleep and the quality of overall rest. But did you know that the position in which you sleep also impacts your slumber as well? Most people have a favorite sleeping position. How does yours stack up?
Sleeping on your back: Very few people prefer sleeping on their backs, although the position is suggested for some who are experiencing certain health issues, aches and pains. Sleeping on your back is sometimes considered one of the better sleep positions for the body, because with good support it correctly aligns your hips, neck and spine. However, sleeping on your back is not recommended for women who are pregnant, and it can cause issues for those prone to snoring. Sleeping on the back allows the mouth and tongue to relax in such a way that can cause breathing irregularity, snoring, airway obstruction and other issues. Most people aren’t comfortable sleeping this way, anyway, so it’s probably best to find another sleep position that ensures quality sleep and comfortable breathing.
Sleeping on your stomach: A small percentage of people prefer sleeping in this position, as well, which is probably for the best, because sleeping on your stomach is horrible for your back and neck and can cause aches and pains that last well into your waking hours. This position also puts extra stress on organs and airways, which can have long term negative effects. Avoid this sleep position if possible.
Sleeping on your side: Sleeping on your side is the best sleep position for your body. Side sleepers enjoy spine, neck and hip alignment, freer breathing and a secure yet relaxed posture. Do you sleep on your left side? That’s even better! Left side sleepers positively increases blood flow to the heart and effectively support the spine. This position also keeps airways open, which means less snoring!
Sleeping in the fetal position: Sleeping curled in the fetal position is a modification of the side sleeping position. Curling your legs can compress the diaphragm, leading to more constricted breathing, but the addition of some body positioning pillows may help you avoid this concern as you slumber in this position.
Ultimately there’s no one right position to sleep in at night. Getting a good night’s rest night after night is vitally important for good health. But it is important to be aware of the pros and cons of each sleep position. If your bed partner snores at night or you find yourself waking daily with sleep-induced aches and pains, it may be time to take a closer look at the position in which you drift off to dream. Small changes in sleep style – such as the addition of a support pillow between your knees, a new mattress or an upgraded pillow – may offer the additional support you need to enjoy peaceful rest.
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