The Best Sleeping Positions and Their Effects on Health
Your sleep position might seem inconsequential, especially if you’re getting good doses of sleep. However, it can impact your health significantly without you knowing right away. There are three main sleep positions – on your back, side, or stomach – and different variables for each. In this article, I will talk about some of the effects of each position on your body and health, in the hopes of helping you choose what’s best for you.
Sleeping on your back
Not many people can sleep on their back. However, it’s still considered as the best and healthiest position. One of the reasons why is because it keeps the head, neck, and spine in a neutral alignment. Along with a safe and supportive mattress, it’s in this position where there is little to no pressure in other areas. It’s also a good position to prevent acid reflux because the stomach is below the esophagus.
Another advantage of sleeping on your back is that it prevents wrinkles. You’re facing the ceiling, and nothing is pushing against your face. It also prevents sagging of breasts. The disadvantage is that it can cause the tongue to block your airway, so it’s not ideal for those who have sleep apnea. It also a aggravates or causes snoring.
- Prevents neck and back pain.
- Lowers chances of acid reflux
- Prevents wrinkles and sagging of breast
- Causes snoring
- Not ideal for sleep apnea
This position is only as good as the mattress and pillow you are using. The best kind of pillow for you isn’t too thick that it gives a strain on your neck. It should support a natural alignment of your head, neck, and spine.
Sleeping on your side
The side position is probably the most popular among the sleeping positions. There are many variations of it – fetal position, log position, and yearner position. The fetal position is when you’re curled up on your side with your knees bent. The log position is when you’re lying straight on one side with both your arms down, while the yearner position is when you’re on one side with your arms forward.
In general, sleeping on your side is pretty good too. Like the back sleeping position, the side sleeping position prevents or decreases acid reflux. Another advantage is that is can also help with back and neck pain, but this is also dependent on the kind of mattress and pillow you have. If you have sleep apnea, then this position is best for you because it keeps your airways open.
The fetal position, particularly on your left side, is especially perfect for pregnant women. This is because it promotes circulation between the mommy and the baby. It also prevents pressure against on your liver from the uterus.
The downside of sleeping on your side is that it can lead to premature wrinkles because your face is pushed against the pillow. It’s also not good for the breast because it’ll be dangling down, causing them to sag. If you’re resting your head or body on your arms, then that can lead to some pressure and pain.
- Reduces acid reflux
- Promotes circulation during pregnancy (fetal position)
- Reduces or prevents snoring
- Prevents neck and back pain
- Sleeping on your side can cause wrinkles
- It can cause sagging of breast
- It will restrict blood flow to arms and the “pins and needles” feeling.
If you’re going to sleep on your side, I suggest you get a memory foam pillow that’s thick and firm enough to support your head. If it’s too flat, your head is slightly bent and can cause neck pains. You should also use a pillow under your waist, so your spine is not curved. If you prefer the fetal position, avoid curling up so much.
Sleeping on your stomach
The last and the least favorite position among health care professionals and sleep experts are on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach makes it hard to keep a neutral alignment of your spine. It also adds pressure on some joints and muscles that can lead to pain and numbness. What more is that the position keeps your head on the side for extended periods of time. You may not feel the effects right away, but it will eventually start to hurt.
The only advantage of sleeping on your belly is that it eases snoring. In addition to the disadvantages above, it also adds pressure on your face leading to early wrinkling. If you want to maintain breast perkiness, then try to avoid this position as well.
- Minimizes snoring
- Leads to neck and back pain.
- It can also lead to joint and muscle pain on affected areas.
- Not suitable for maintaining breast perkiness and preventing wrinkles.
If you can’t help but sleep on your stomach, at least look for a pillow that is thin – about 3 inches – for your head. You can also put a pillow under the pelvic area. These will help keep your spine in a neutral alignment.
Among the three main sleeping positions, sleeping on your back is still the best one. However, we can’t help how we fall asleep sometimes. We will also be moving around during the night. Just keep in mind the pros and cons of each position and the tips you can follow to improve your sleep and health. And of course, mind your mattress and pillow because these play a significant role in your overall sleep quality.
This is Sandra McElroy. My mission is to help BedtimeFriends readers research, & pick mattresses, pillows & various other sleep products that suit their needs, & budget.