Are you a side sleeper or back sleeper? Perhaps you sprawl out like a starfish or curl up in the fetal position. It may surprise you to learn that your sleeping position, your sleeping posture if you will, can seriously impact your health. For instance, the fetal position can contribute to fewer back problems and a reduced risk of cognitive disorders. Considering that you spend one third of your life sleeping or in bed, it’s beneficial to pay attention to your sleeping position.
Every person has a sleeping position that they prefer. Some people cannot sleep on their back, while others can’t imagine sleeping in any other position. Some people fall asleep on their stomach and move like crazy during the night. All of these movements and positions can either hurt or benefit your health. They can also affect how much you sleep! Continue reading to figure out if your sleep position is enhancing or diminishing your health.
Things That Affect Sleeping Position
Comfort is obviously the thing to consider when it comes to sleep. You don’t want to wake up with a cranked out neck or numb wrist. At the same time, comfort isn’t the only thing that dictates your sleeping position. Age and gender are two primary factors that influence the position you sleep in. As you age, it’s very common to start sleeping on your side, and sleep studies support that side sleeping posture is beneficial, especially if you sleep on your right side. Sleeping on the right side may help protect heart function and benefit digestion, but more research is necessary to confirm these claims. Once you progress further into adulthood, it’s also common to move around less, meaning you remain in the same position all night.
Gender is another factor that influences your sleeping positions. The positions in which women sleep become paramount during pregnancy. Most health experts advise against back sleeping if a woman is pregnant. The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women to sleep on their left side to increase blood flow and nutrients to the placenta. It’s very common for men to sleep on their back, and several studies found that non pregnant women are twice as likely to sleep in the fetal position when compared to men.
Pick Your Posture
There is no single sleep posture that is ideal for every person on the planet. We wish this was the case, but it isn’t. For people who are healthy and fit, sleep position is a matter of preference. People who have specific medical conditions or those who experience pain can benefit from sleeping in the right position. According to research, people who have back pain find relief from back sleeping. The Cleveland Clinic recommends that back sleepers put a small pillow under their knees to help alleviate spinal pressure. This may work, but it can take some getting used to. If back sleeping continues to be a problem, side sleeping is the next best option. It’s still beneficial to put a small pillow between your knees to reduce knee and hip pain.
Side Sleeping Is Best
This is the most popular sleeping posture and several studies link it to increasing relaxation and promoting open-mindedness. People who sleep on their right side tend to rely on caffeine or smoking, while people who sleep on their left side tend to be more creative. Side sleeping is also beneficial for people with specific health conditions, including sleep apnea and acid reflux. Health experts say that supine sleeping (sleeping on your back) can actually increase the risk of sleep apnea episodes because the throat muscles relax and block the airway. Back sleeping also increases snoring, which is more of a social problem than a health problem. If you cannot sleep on your side and suffer from snoring, acid reflux or sleep apnea, sleep researchers recommend raising the legs of the head of your bed so that you aren’t completely flat. It’s also possible to get an adjustable bed.
You Can Change Your Sleep Posture
Believe it or not, you can change your sleeping posture to benefit your health. You aren’t stuck in the rut of stomach sleeping for life. It may take a little effort on your part, but it is possible to achieve a healthier sleeping position. Before you commit to a sleeping position, consider if it is right for you. Certain sleeping positions have more advantages than others, so consider which position is best before changing how you sleep. You don’t have to go out and buy a new mattress, although, many mattresses are more beneficial for specific sleeping positions. In order to make yourself comfortable in your new sleeping position, you can wedge pillows under your hips, between your knees, under your knees, and next to your shoulder. Some people even use tennis balls to get comfortable. Ultimately, find what works for you and research the benefits of changing your sleeping position.