Many factors affect the quality of your sleep, and it turns out your sleeping position is one of them. Although few of us lie still during the night, you probably have one preferred style of sleeping — on your back, side, or stomach. But is one of them more conducive to a good night’s sleep than the other?
Chiropractors and sleep experts consider back (or supine) sleeping position the best for your spine and posture. That’s because when you lie with your belly up, you get the most anatomically correct alignment of your vertebrae.
Along with that, back sleeping packs several other benefits to your health:
- Easier breathing. When you sleep on the back, your lungs aren’t squeezed or pressed, so you can breathe more easily.
- Acid reflux prevention. Back sleeping may help eliminate heartburn or acid reflux. Use a wedge pillow to elevate your upper body, and prevent gastric juices from flowing into the esophagus and causing you pain.
- Edema relief. If you’re prone to leg swelling, you can put an additional pillow under your legs when lying on your back, to lift them a bit and ease the lymphatic flow. This may reduce the symptoms.
Now, the main drawback of the supine position is that it may contribute to snoring, as the impact of gravity on your soft tissues — palate, tongue, and uvula — is more pronounced when you’re sleeping this way. The weight of your neck or chest area can also press on your lungs and make breathing harder for some body types.
Pro Tip: Wedge-shaped pillows are highly beneficial for back sleepers, as they can help build a more comfortable sleeping spot. Alternatively, you can use an adjustable base for your mattress, which will allow you to control the incline.
Side (or lateral) sleeping is the most common sleeping style among the global population. Experts estimate that around 69% of people opt for one of the three side sleeping styles:
- The Foetus: on your side with bent knees and arms
- The Yearner: on your side with both arms stretched out in front of you;
- The Log: on your side with both arms stretched along your body.
Perhaps it’s our body showing us the most comfortable and healthy way to sleep, as the lateral sleeping position — especially if you choose the left side — positively impacts your well-being in many ways:
- Prevents snoring and sleep apnea. Side sleepers are less likely to snore because their airways are free from potential blockage caused by gravity.
- Helps with gastric issues. As with back sleeping, snoozing on your side puts your esophagus higher than the stomach; thus, it cannot be irritated by stomach acid during the night.
- Contributes to heart health. Our heart is slightly shifted to the left from the center of your chest, and your main blood vessel, aorta, begins its way from the left ventricle of your heart. Thus, sleeping on the left side will help the heart pump the blood more easily because of the absence of any curves that require additional pressure.
- Works best for pregnant women. Sleeping on the left side increases the blood flow to the uterus and gives your little one more oxygen and nutrients.
The only problem with side sleeping position is that in older or heavier people it can provoke hip or shoulder pain, as these areas resist the pressure from your mattress the most. The same issues might appear if you sleep on a wrong mattress that doesn’t allow enough sinkage for your hips and shoulders.
But despite this flaw, side sleeping seems nearly perfect, right?
Well, it gets even better!
If you follow these simple steps, you can take your side sleeping experience to a whole new level:
- Use additional pillows. Placing a pillow between your knees or under your upper hand will eliminate the tension in these areas and will help you maintain the correct spine alignment.
- Invest in a mattress topper. This can make your mattress a little softer and more suitable for side sleeping. According to this review, the main rule for the best mattress topper for side sleeping is that it should combine decent cradling, durability and breathable materials. Keep these characteristics in mind, and you’ll surely find a suitable option.
- Buy linen sheets. Not only natural linen is comfortable and cool. Side sleepers typically sink more deeply into their bed, so the more breathable their mattress and sheets are, the better.
Pro Tip: Sleeping on the left side keeps your organs (especially the liver) from squeezing and promotes their proper functioning.
And finally, stomach sleeping. In fact, most doctors agree that stomach sleeping has more drawbacks than benefits (even though it prevents you from snoring) as the position can:
- strain your neck and lower back, especially if you sleep on a soft mattress;
- aggravate the gastrointestinal issues;
- contribute to wrinkles and even breast sagging.
However, some people can find comfort and fall asleep quickly only when they sleep on their stomach. If you’re one of them, try to put a thin pillow under your hips to eliminate the strain in your lower back area.
Which position works best for you? Tweet us @litdarling
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