Does it matter how you sleep? Well, yes your sleeping position may affect your health. Sleeping in any awkward or incorrect position may cause some sort of body or nerve pain. It’s best to know how you should sleep to improve an existing health condition, sleep well, and to enjoy quality rest. ~ Ed.
Does your sleeping position have any bearing on your health? Are there specific positions of sleeping that we should adapt to better health?
People suffer some health conditions due to incorrect sleeping positions. Our sleeping positions can affect our comfort or ability to sleep well. Whether you are using a weighted blanket or sleeping without covering yourself, you should think about the sleeping position you adopt.
In this article, I shall discuss some of the most common sleeping positions and how they affect our health.
Sleep and Physical Health
You may not be aware that sleep has a direct effect on your physical health. One of the good things about sleep is that it helps the mind and the body to relax.
When you sleep well at night, after a hard day’s work, your brain recovers. Your body also regains all the lost energy and you wake up a refreshed person in the morning.
You need to know that sleep plays a big role in your day-to-day activity. Sleep deficiency can interfere with your body’s processes. As such, how you sleep has a big role in your life.
Common Sleeping Positions
You may sleep on your back, or even on your stomach. Some prefer sleeping on their side and there are many variations to this position. Here’s more about these common sleeping positions.
Prone Position – Sleeping on your stomach
Almost 7% of the population sleep in this position. It impacts your health in various ways.
The main advantage is that it helps to prevent obstructions of the airwaves, so people who sleep in this position snore less. But it also affects your health negatively.
People sleeping in this position experience numbness and tingling of the nerves because the position puts pressure on the nerves. It may also cause nerve pain.
The spine and the neck should be in a neutral position when you sleep to prevent pressure on the nerve. It is advisable to break the habit of sleeping on your stomach. If you can’t, then at least ensure that you prop your forehead in such a way that the spine and the neck remain in a neutral position. The position should not affect your breathing as well.
Supine Position – Sleeping on the back
There are both advantages and disadvantages to this sleeping position. The main disadvantage is that it causes back pain or makes it even worse for people with chronic lower back pain.
Sleeping on your back also aggravates sleep apnea. It also causes snoring, which may be embarrassing sometimes. Pregnant women should not sleep in this position in the third trimester as it could affect the unborn baby.
The good news is that it can help prevent heartburn, especially if you raise your head with a pillow. It also helps to align the head, neck, and spine. If you experience frequent neck pain, this could help prevent the pain. When one folds their hands behind the head, then it is a starfish position. It may make snoring worse.
Side Sleeping Position
Most people sleep in this position. It ensures comfort and prevents snoring. But curling is not good as it restricts breathing since by doing so; you are also restricting the diaphragm.
Side sleeping encourages brain waste removal. Scientists have proof that the brain gets rid of the waste while we are asleep. Sleeping in a lateral position enhances brain waste removal. But sleeping in this position leads to the formation of wrinkles because one is pressing on one side of the face. There are different ways of side sleeping.
Couples usually sleep in this position. It helps them to cuddle and stimulate the production of oxytocin, the feel-good hormones. Thus, couples sleep faster and bond more.
At least 40% of people sleep in this position. One sleeps and curls by bending the knees. The sleeping position is more common in women. It is a good sleeping position for pregnant women as it encourages more blood circulation. To enhance comfort in this position, one may place a pillow between the legs.
It is an ideal sleeping position for people who snore. But it could lead to joint pains in the morning especially, for people with arthritis since one sleeps with their hands parallel and next to their bodies and the legs straight on the bed as well.
Ideal Sleeping Position for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women should ensure that their sleeping position does not affect the fetus. Pregnant women don’t have much choice since sleeping on the back or stomach is very uncomfortable and sometimes impossible.
Sleeping on your left side is the ideal sleeping position for a pregnant woman to enhance blood circulation. One may also use extra pillows just below the belly and between the knees for more comfort.
The Best Sleeping Position for People Experiencing Neck, Shoulder, and Back Pain
If you experience neck, shoulder, or back pain, it is good to choose a sleeping position that will soothe your spine and nerves. Health conditions such as arthritis and upper back pain may get worse or improve depending on your sleeping position.
For less shoulder pain, starfish, or soldier position (sleeping on the side with your hands along your body) helps. Sleeping on the side with a pillow between your legs may help to align the hips and spine, hence reducing neck and back pain.
The sleeping position you choose can help improve an existing health condition. People with GERD will find relief sleeping on the left side as fewer acid leaks through the esophagus.
One also may enjoy more relief sleeping on the right side if they suffer from congestive heart failure. Back sleeping may help prevent the early formation of wrinkles. People who snore a lot should sleep on the back and ensure they have a big pillow to raise their head.
People suffering from stroke, high blood pressure, or heart disease may experience sleep apnea. They could benefit from sleeping in the side position.
It is always good to consult a doctor if any sleeping position affects you. The above are some tips that can help you choose a sleeping position that best enhances quality sleep and rest.
Over to you
Which is your favorite sleeping position and how do you feel about it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.