What Each Sleep Position Does for Your Health
January 17th, 2020 by David Martin
Recently, more and more research has come out that testifies to the significance of good sleep and the profound effect it has on our wellbeing. But while everything from keeping a regular sleep schedule to choosing the right mattress can be quite important, many people don’t realize that the way they position themselves also plays a part in how their bodies react during sleep time. So let’s go over the five main sleeping positions and see what the pros and cons of each are, and help you pick out the one that’s perfect for you:
1. On your back
Widely considered to be the healthiest overall sleeping position, sleeping on your back allows your head, neck and spine to rest in a neutral position. Additionally, this position is good for people with acid reflux as long as you use a high enough pillow to ensure that your stomach lies below your esophagus, thereby preventing food or acid from coming up your digestive tract. Nevertheless, back-sleepers are more likely to snore, and the position isn’t recommended for people with sleep apnea, especially those who use a breathing tube through the night. Back-sleepers are well-served by all types of mattresses, so your best bet may lie in purchasing a layered mattress like the Ecosa one that allows you to switch between various levels of firmness from one night to the next.
2. On your right side
Side sleeping is quite popular, especially in cases where people share beds and have to be a bit more mindful of the space they occupy. Those who prefer this type of position can look forward to less snoring due to having their airways open at all times, which makes it a great choice for sleep apnea sufferers. Additionally, choosing the right side over the left reduces pressure on your heart muscles, which can be immensely helpful to those with congestive heart failure. Keeping a pillow between your legs is essential for relieving pressure, and having another one that supports your head properly is just as important. Side-sleepers are best served by a softer mattress, one that provides support while gently cradling their hips to prevent stress injuries.
3. On your left side
Sleeping on the left side of your body is quite similar to right-side sleeping, and shares many of the same benefits, including improved breathing and decreased acid reflux. While those with heart issues may be best served by sleeping on their right side, pregnant women should go with the left, because this position increases the blood flow to the fetus. One final note about side-sleeping – whichever side you choose, chances are your face will be squashed against the pillow for long periods of time, which can cause wrinkles to form. So be sure to apply some face cream before going to bed.
4. In the fetal position
By far the most popular sleeping position, the fetal pose is employed by approximately 41% of all sleepers. This position induces a sense of safety in many sleepers, as it unconsciously reminds them of childhood and their mother’s womb. It’s a good position for those who are prone to snoring, although care must be taken to avoid curling up too tightly and blocking the diaphragm in the process. It can also leave some feeling a bit sore in the morning, so it’s a good idea to place a pillow between the knees and do some stretching exercises right after waking up. Just like with side-sleepers, a softer mattress is indicated to relieve pressure on joints and muscles.
5. On your stomach
Stomach sleeping is often derided for being detrimental to your health, but for some it may be the position they feel most comfortable in. Snoring is greatly reduced in this position, but unfortunately, stomach sleeping does tend to put quite a bit of pressure on your muscles and joints. Difficulty breathing is another common side-effect for stomach sleepers, but this can be relieved by lying face down instead of to the side and using a pillow to prop up your forehead. Stomach sleepers need a firm mattress, one that can help shore up their spine and prevent lower back pain.
That concludes our overview of the five main sleeping positions and their effect on the body. Even though most people toss and turn several times a night, thereby switching their position mid-sleep, it’s important to know that you can train your body to fall asleep in a position that benefits you. So next time you find yourself dozing off in your big, comfy bed, remember to be mindful of your posture and make the most of the hours you spend in the sack.