What Are The Best Sleep Positions and Which One Should You Use?
How do you sleep at night? I don’t necessarily mean the quality of sleep, but the actual position you choose. Perhaps, though, the quality of sleep is important, because the position you choose can have a dramatic effect on how well you sleep.
For millennia, I’m sure, the best position for sleeping has been debated. Some prefer sleeping on their left or right side, others claim sleeping on their back is the best, and yet others suggest sleeping on your stomach or in some other position.
In truth, they all have positive and negative aspects, and other things factor in, such as sleeping surfaces and medical conditions. So, rather than figure out the best, let’s just learn about all of them.
Some also suggest sleeping on your side can lead to issues with wrinkles. Since your face is constantly pressed up against a pillow, the added pressure can stretch your skin, leading to crow’s feet a bit earlier than one might like.
By one count, approximately fifteen percent of the adult population prefers to sleep on their side.
- Helps with Spinal Alignment
- Aids Digestion
- Avoids Sleep Apnea
- Reduces Snoring
- Premature Wrinkles
- Shoulder Pain
- May Put Your Arm to Sleep
Sleeping in the Fetal Position
This is going to be a fairly small section, because sleeping in the fetal position bears many of the same benefits seen with sleeping on your side, seeing as they’re basically the same thing. Instead of your body being straight, however, you curl your legs up toward your body and curve your back into a sort of a hunched over position.
Apparently, 41 percent of the population enjoys this position, making it the most popular, but it isn’t exactly good for you. Well, not unless you’re pregnant.
In the case of pregnancy, sleeping in this position helps to increase circulation through the body and the fetus within and keeps the uterus from pressing against your liver. These are definitely plusses. However, the position also can lead to some real soreness in the morning.
Putting yourself in the fetal position puts stress on the muscles in your back, and can be especially uncomfortable for those who suffer from arthritis. On top of this, curling your body in this way also keeps the diaphragm from doing its job to the best of its ability, which means your breathing can end up being affected as you sleep.
Still, this position does combat snoring, it does fight sleep apnea and keep those awful stomach acids in check.
- Excellent for Pregnancy
- Combats Snoring
- Aids Digestion
- May Restrict Breathing
- Potential for Joint Pain
Sleeping On Your Stomach
Do you sleep on your stomach? You may want to rethink that idea. Of all traditional sleeping positions, sleeping on your stomach is pretty much the worst save for one thing: stopping snoring. If you are a very heavy snorer in any other position, sleeping on your stomach is going to help out with that. This is because all the things which usually get in the way during sleep and cause the snoring will be out of the way when sleeping on your stomach. Clear airways mean clear breathing which means little to no snoring.
If that’s not bad enough, sleeping in this position puts a lot of pressure on muscles and joints, which can lead to irritation and pain. Just think about it. Your spine is going to be curved because of where it connects to your neck and how you have to keep your head while sleeping. Unless you have a special pillow, sleeping face down isn’t exactly an option, and sleeping with your head turned means your neck is going to be bent all night long. This is not a recipe for restful sleep.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise only about seven percent of the population choose this way to sleep.
- Reduced Snoring
- Back Pain
- Muscle Pain
It should be noted, however, this is not a good position for anyone who suffers from sleep apnea, and it will cause snoring. Your back is going to feel great, but the rest of you will be completely thrown off if your breathing becomes blocked due to issues with obstructive sleep apnea.
Since the issue with sleep apnea comes from the fatty tissues in your throat obstructing the breathing passage, sleeping on your back makes it easier for those pieces of your throat to fall into place and block the air. This can lead to issues with breathing, potentially causing you to stop breathing entirely.
Should the blockage be bad enough, it would jolt you awake. It is for this reason many people with sleep apnea don’t get restful sleep. Constantly waking up in the middle of the night isn’t conducive to that, and many people with sleep apnea don’t even realize it’s happening.
- Great for Posture
- Reduced Joint and Muscle Pain
- Terrible for Sleep Apnea
- Terrible for Snorers
Now, let’s be honest, unless you’re sleeping out in the wild, without a pillow or blanket, there are other things which need to be taken into consideration when choosing which sleeping position is going to be the most comfortable.
For instance, if you enjoy sleeping on your back, you’re going to want to make sure to have a pillow with a little bit of height to it so as to keep your head elevated. If you want to sleep on your stomach, you might prefer something a bit softer in the mattress department. Let’s take a look at what are considered the best options for each of the sleeping positions.
Those who prefer to sleep on their side are going to want to go for a slightly softer than average mattress. This will allow it to match the natural curvature of the body in order to keep things nice and straight so far as the spine is concerned. With something such as memory foam, this also means the rest of the body will have a fair amount of support, assuming the inner layers of the mattress are able to provide this.
For something like this, a memory foam mattress at a medium level of firmness would be ideal, one with a fair amount of support from something such as high-density foam or pocketed innersprings. Going with this, the mattress would still be comfortable for other people sleeping in the bed as well, assuming they may have other sleeping positions. Overall, this is sort of the best bet for everything mattress, though it’s perfect for a side sleeper.
For your head, you’re going to want something which doesn’t have too much loft, which can put your head too high and remove the desired alignment in your spine. So aim for firmness, but not necessarily thick. You have to consider a couple other facts, as well. There are some pillows out there which, for instance, have pockets to accommodate for your ear, which can make sleeping a bit more comfortable. Others are designed to conform.
You can get pillows made out of memory foam, with varying levels of firmness, but there are alternatives to this, as well. Pillows which contain small items inside, such as buckwheat hulls or small beads, can also help your pillow match your head perfectly, and without the heat issues sometimes associated with memory foam.
Since sleeping on your back is one of the best ways to make sure your spine and such stay aligned, you don’t need a whole lot of give in your mattress. Back sleepers are going to have their best results using a slightly medium to medium firm mattress. If you go too soft, you’ll start having more curvature in your back than you’d like. This can be found in memory foam, latex foam, or pretty much any variety of mattress.
For your head, you want a pillow which is just thick enough to elevate your head so you won’t have any acid making its way back into your throat and mouth. This is especially important for those who suffer from acid reflux disease and other similar maladies. Foam pillows can be a great option, as would the pillows filled with small objects, but it doesn’t matter all that much. For this situation, the key is really trying to get that extra height.
While sleeping on your stomach isn’t really good for anyone, some people simply won’t be able to change their ways. To each their own, it is said. For these people, the right mattress can help with some of the issues they may face. You don’t want to go too soft, for instance, because it’ll mess up the alignment of your spine. However, if you go too firm, you risk causing yourself some aches and pains in the morning from the pressure your body puts on your chest.
On the pillow side of things, there’s only one pillow to be used if you plan on making the most of sleeping on your stomach and staying alive. You’re looking for a pillow which either has a place for your face or which can hold up your forehead, so you can sleep face down and not suffocate.
It really does come down to just that. Sleeping on your stomach with your neck turned is a recipe for soreness. If you absolutely must sleep that way, however, keep in mind the same things you would if you were sleeping on your side.
If you want to start sleeping on your side, few things are as easy as limiting your movement. One way to do this is to place a pillow behind you when you get into bed. This is going to make it more difficult to roll over onto your back or stomach in the middle of the night. By doing this, you’re forcing your body to stay in this position. You can take this a step further by using either a contouring pillow or one of those full body pillows.
By using a pillow such as this, you can shape it around your body, and even put your arms around it, to sort of lock yourself comfortably in place. In time, you may not need to resort to such methods, but maybe you’ll stick with it because it’s so darn comfortable.
Sleeping and You
Whether you sleep on your back, your side or your stomach, or some variation in between, your sleep position is kind of a big deal. Your aches and pains may not be from the stresses of life, they could stem completely from the way in which you sleep and from the items on which you sleep.
Consider taking a deeper look at what your body does each night and see if a change is in the cards for you. If so, all it takes is the will to make a change, and you could be enjoying even more peaceful sleep in the future. What do you think? Any questions or comments? Please comment and share below!