Most people don’t spare too much thought about the position that they sleep in. there is a good chance that you don’t either. That is, of course, unless you wake up with some sort of pain or a pulled muscle. Only then, will you begin to wonder about sleep positions, and whether you are in the best possible one. While the question ‘which sleep position is best’ may appear simple enough, the answer isn’t that cut and dry. This article, however, does take a closer look at the various sleeping poses to give you a clearer picture on the subject:
The Health Benefits of Sleeping in the Right Position
Now, you may be wondering just why it is important for you to adopt certain sleeping stances while avoiding others. Even if there is a best way to lay in bed, does it actually have any advantages for you? The answer here is a resounding yes.
The human body is structured in such a way that it does have a natural position while sleeping. This is when all of the muscles, joints, and bones are in the exact places that they need to be. This allows your body to relax as a whole, ensuring that when you wake up you will not experience any stiffness or tightness. Not to mention, when your body is relaxed, so are you. This ensures that you can get a good night’s sleep that isn’t interrupted by any pain or discomfort.
The Negative Effects of Sleeping in the Wrong Position
If the benefits alone aren’t enough to convince you that there is a particular way that you should be sleeping in, then just consider the negative aspects of bad sleeping posture. As you can imagine, at the top of this list is all of the soreness and pain you experience from sleeping in an odd pose.
Poor sleep posture can wreak havoc on your neck, shoulders, and back. This can lead to limited movement the next day due to discomfort.
The way that you sleep can also increase the effect of any pre-existing conditions that you may have. For instance, if you suffer from sleep apnea or acid reflux, then you may find that sleeping in a certain way could aggravate your symptoms. However, if you are aware of how to choose a position that suits your condition, you will find yourself sleeping better.
Types of Sleeping Positions
It is clear that there are different ways to sleep. What you may not be aware of, however, are just how many types of sleeping stances there are. Here, you will be able to identify which type of sleeper you are figure out if you need to make any changes:
A side sleeper rests either on their right or left side with their back and legs relatively straight. While this does seem to be one of the more popular positions, it can be difficult to back this up with actual statistics for obvious reasons. It is also tricky to determine whether people tend to favor their right or left side.
Pros and Cons
If you tend to adopt this pose at night, then you are in for some good news – it is the second best position to sleep in! This is a good bearing for anyone who snores, suffers from sleep apnea, or acid reflux. This posture keeps your airways open which is why you will encounter fewer of the symptoms related to the above medical conditions.
Now, if you are wondering if sleeping on your side is bad for your back, then the response would be… depends. Now, if you tend to sleep straight for most of the night – this is excellent for you. This is because your spine is kept extended for most of the night, in its natural position. So, you are unlikely to suffer from any muscle or back pain as a result.
Of course, if this isn’t the case then you can expect back pain or shoulder pain. Also, after sleeping on your side, it is not uncommon to wake up to a numb arm that you have been lying on top of. Last but not least, side sleeping isn’t great for your skin. Due to the effect of gravity, this pose can actually cause wrinkles.
Best Way to Sleep on Side
Don’t give up hope on being a side sleeper just yet, though. The first thing you need to figure out is which side is better to sleep on. According to research, favoring your left side can actually help, especially if you are suffering from heartburn. Pregnant mothers are also frequently advised to sleep on this side so that they can improve blood flow. If you don’t have any such issues, then alternating sides can help to prevent premature wrinkles from forming on your face.
At the very least, you should find a way to ensure that your spine is kept straight throughout the night. You can help this along by placing a pillow in between your knees and making certain that one of your shoulders is lying against the mattress.
Fetal Position Sleeper
You can consider the fetal position to be a variation of the side sleeping position. The difference here is that your torso is a bit more hunched over and that your knees are drawn up much higher. This, too, is a pose that you can take up on your right or left side. Due to the various myths out there, you may feel that sleeping in the fetus position is negative. Let’s see what the results have in store.
Pros and Cons
If you are someone who keeps most of the household up with your snoring, then you will find that the fetal stance can put an end to the noise. Also, like with being a side sleeper, if you are pregnant and favor your left side, then this is a good thing for you and the baby.
This is where the positive points end, though. See, when you take the fetal position, your body is all hunched up which means that you could end up quite sore in the morning. Also, if you are curled up really tight, then you are constricting your diaphragm which, in turn, impacts your breathing.
Best Way to Sleep in Fetal Position
If the fetal pose is your go-to, then you are going to need to start making some amendments while you are still awake. Basically, you need to straighten out your back and legs – this opens up the airways and your circulation. As with the side sleeper positions, placing a pillow between your knees can help to alleviate some of the discomfort.
If you are a back sleeper – congratulations! It is officially the best position to sleep in. Unfortunately, it is also one of the least common sleep stances as well. So, most people have to teach themselves to take on the supine sleep position.
Pros and Cons
Remember that natural pose that was mentioned earlier? Well, if you snooze on your back then you are most likely to adopt this position. Thus, you aren’t putting any undue pressure on just one area. Instead, the mattress is able to support your spine, as it should. Also, if you are looking to stop the clock a bit, lying on your back prevents wrinkles from forming.
The only real issue with the supine pose is if you have sleep apnea – this position can cause the tongue to block your airway. The other problem is if you are a snorer, sleeping on your back will not be doing you any favors at all.
Best Way to Sleep on Your Back
Even if you are already slumbering on your back, there is still a way for you to further improve your stance. This is by sleeping on your back without a pillow. By doing this, you will ensure that your neck is in a much more natural position. If you suffer from acid reflux, however, then you should definitely use a pillow. This will prevent food or acid from making its way back up to your throat.
If you tend to flop onto your tummy during the night, you have probably heard an earful about. As such, you may be deliberating if it is actually bad to sleep on your stomach. Unfortunately, for you, sleeping on your stomach has proven to be the worst possible position. So, you may want to look into training yourself to doze off in a better manner.
Pros and Cons
So, what actually happens if you sleep on your stomach? Interestingly enough, it isn’t all bad as far as being a stomach sleeper is concerned. If you snore or have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, then this position can actually be quite soothing. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily offset all of the negatives attached to it.
The two main parts of your body that are poorly impacted are your back and neck. This is because when you sleep face down, all of the strain is placed on your back. This, in turn, can cause other areas of your body to experience discomfort as well. Now, since you can sleep with your face buried in your pillow, you have to turn your neck to breathe. This disrupts the natural alignment of your neck and spine which can lead to pain and perhaps even a herniated disk.
The Best Way to Sleep on Your Stomach
If you really can’t stop yourself from sleeping on your stomach, then you can do something to alleviate the stress on your back. Place a pillow underneath your stomach so that your spine is given a bit of a break. Regrettably, there isn’t anything you can really due to ease the tension on your neck.
Pillows and Sleeping Position
There are various schools of thought when it comes to pillows and the effect that they have on sleep positions. Some individuals swear by sleeping without a pillow while others can’t get a good night’s rest without one. So, who is right? Is it better to sleep with or without a pillow?
The answer to this is – it depends. As already stated, if you sleep on your back, then not having a pillow could be a benefit. That being said, in the case of acid reflux, you actually require a pillow to prevent the upward movement of acid.
As with most people, you will probably find it nearly impossible to fall asleep without having a pillow tucked under your head. So, in this case, it is all about finding the right option. First things first, if you are someone who likes to pile two or more pillows before settling in, you should stop this. Too many pillows or even just a really high pillow forces your neck into an unnatural position. It is best to stick with just one average sized pillow.
The other thing that you should consider regarding your pillow is the material that is used to construct it. Typically, you should opt for ones that are either made from memory foam or feathers. Both of these materials conform to your head and neck, supporting them better.
Can You Change Your Sleeping Position?
If you are someone who tends to huddle up into a ball or lie flat on their face, you know that you need to make a change. Now, it is simply a matter of figuring out how to change your sleep position. You should know that while this is possible, it certainly isn’t easy. It is going to take some strategic planning, positioning, and time. So, you may find yourself being uncomfortable for a few days.
Now that it has been established that sleeping on your back is what’s best for you, it is time to actually adjust your body to rest in this manner. This involves the use of pillows. To start with, get yourself a pillow that cradles your head, neck, and shoulders but also contours in such a way that it prevents you from turning over. To help this along, placing a pillow underneath your knees can make it simpler to switch things up.
Those first few nights, though, are going to be difficult because you will probably end up breaking rest. The main thing that you can do, though, is to flip onto your back whenever you find yourself drifting into another pose.
If you are someone who suffers from snoring or sleep apnea, you will find that being a side sleeper is much more effective for your health problems. Of course, if this isn’t your natural stance while slumbering you will need to alter this. It can be simple as placing a contour pillow to change your pose while some people even resort to pinning a tennis ball to their backs.
The Best Sleeping Positions for Specific Situations
One thing that you may have noticed about this article is that while sleeping on your back is what is best, it is necessarily the right option for everyone. Pregnant women, people with pre-existing medical conditions, and even certain physical problems can make lying on your back a bad idea. So, here are some other sleeping positions to consider for certain situations:
Sleeping Position for Pregnant Women
If you have a bun in the oven, then you should be sleeping on your side. Not just any side, though, as the left has been touted as being the best. Why? Well, this is because by doing so you are increasing the amount of blood that is sent to your placenta and your fetus. In short, this means that your baby is able to get more nutrients.
As many moms-to-be have already figured out, catching some shut-eye while pregnant isn’t the easiest thing to do. This is because you can feel uncomfortable in most poses and can suffer from heartburn as well. Using pillows to prop up and elevate various parts of your body can increase your level of comfort.
Sleeping Position for Couples
One of the biggest arguments couples can have is about how each person sleeps during the night. Some people claim that while they love to cuddle, their partner prefers their own space. Or, one is a bit of an active sleeper while the other one doesn’t change up positions all that much.
The thing here is to find comfortable sleeping positions for couples where both people are benefitted. Remember although you might make an effort to fall asleep in a particular pose doesn’t mean that it is going to remain that way. Once you are asleep, it is quite normal for each person to go back to their natural sleeping position.
A top complaint is when one person doesn’t want to cuddle either because their like lots of space to move around or skin to skin contact makes them feel warm. If the other partner doesn’t feel this way, it is important to come to a compromise. Here, have just arms or legs touching while you fall asleep so that both people are kept happy.
Sleeping Position to Avoid Headaches
Are you waking up most mornings with a headache? Well, what you may have not realized is that your sleep position has caused the headache. The most common type of headache is tension headaches. These are caused by the contraction of muscles in your head and neck.
So, if you are nodding off in the fetal position, flopping down on your stomach, or flinging an arm above your head, you are creating unnecessary tension in the muscles. Continuous stress on these muscles is what causes you to wake up with a pounding headache. If you are looking to prevent this from happening again, you really need to train yourself to sleep on your back.
Sleeping Position for a Cold
When you are down with a cold, it can seem practically impossible for you to get comfortable enough to doze off. Coughing bouts, headaches, and a blocked nose can keep you up for hours on end when you really should be getting some rest. Fortunately, there are a few poses that you can try.
If you are trying to stop coughing long enough for you to fall asleep, then you should add a couple of pillows so that you will be sleeping on an incline. This prevents mucus from building up and causing you to cough. The good news is that this same position can aid with a stuffy nose. However, if you find that snoring is one of the side effects of a blocked nose, turning on your side can help to stop it.
Sleeping Position for Back Pain
Back pain, specifically lower back pain can take quite a toll on your daily life. So, if this is something that you experience, you may be looking for a way to sleep with lower back pain.
It should come as no surprise that your spine and back are well-supported when you sleep on your back. So, this is the best way for you to deal with back pain.
You may find that it helps to prop up a pillow behind your knees for an even better alignment.
Something else that you may notice is lower back pain from trying to sleep on your back. While this may seem odd since lying on your back is supposed to eliminate such issues, there is a simple reason – your hip flexor muscles. If you spend all day seated at a desk, your hips are probably quite tight. So, when you go to sleep on your back at night, you end up with pain. By stretching out these muscles each night, at least for a while, you will be able to eliminate this discomfort.
In case you are having too much trouble making changes to your current sleeping position, just focus on keeping your spine straight. This often means using pillows to keep your spine as elongated as possible if you are sleeping on your side or stomach.
Can Your Sleep Position Impact Your Dreams?
The first thing that you should know about the correlation between sleep pose and dreams is that there has only been a little research conducted in this field. So, while some conclusions may have been reached, there is no definite link between the positions and sleep.
One thing that appears to have been recorded quite well, is the effect that sleeping on your stomach has on your dreams. According to researchers, lying on your stomach can trigger more erotic or romantic dreams. The precise cause behind this hasn’t been determined but scientists feel that this may be due to the pressure that is placed on certain muscles in this position, including the genitals.
Some of the studies that were conducted suggested that sleeping on your back and your left side could lead to a greater number of nightmares. However, if you were to face your right side, there was a better chance of you having more restful dreams. As mentioned, though it was a very small study and these findings may not be true for everyone.
Does Your Sleeping Position Mean Anything?
As you may have noticed, each individual sleeps in a specific way. While common patterns emerge, you no doubt have wondered why people sleep the way that they do. Now, you should bear in mind that none of this is set in stone but there have been several theories about the correlation between position and personality.
If you have wondered what sleeping on your back means, there could be a couple of pointers. For instance, if you sleep with your arms at your side in a pose dubbed “the soldier” you may be a bit reserved but also hold yourself and others to higher standards. However, if you are arms are up, you are probably a great friend who is always ready to help with anything, particularly if it involves listening.
For those who have asked themselves “why do I sleep on my stomach?” well, you may not like the answer. If you lie face down and keep your arms near your head, there is a good chance that you are outgoing. At the same time, you may not be all that open to different views or criticisms of yourself.
If you curl up into the fetal position you are probably like most people – a lot tougher on the outside than you actually are. Really, you are quite sensitive and will open up to people that you trust. If you sleep on your side with your arms stretched out, though, cynicism is likely to rule your personality. Decision making, in particular, is a long, thorough process for you but once your mind is made up, you will probably not change it.
If you sleep with on your side with your arms by your side, however, you are quite different to the above personality type. You may be incredibly laid back and are quick to trust most people. This could often be your biggest weakness.
This concludes all that you need to know regarding which sleep position is best for you and how to achieve it.