There is nothing like waking up from a great night of sleep. Feeling completely rested without any aches, pains or cricks. However, as natural as that sounds, it’s not exactly that easy. Too often we wake up feeling run down from a night of tossing and turning. If this is you, one of the easiest things you can assess are your sleep positions.
What role do sleep positions play?
Sleep positions play a role in waking with muscle cramps and soreness, snoring, impaired circulation, heartburn and more. Surprisingly, this also includes the development of wrinkles! So, which way is the best for a perfect night’s sleep?
This popular position does have its benefits. Sleeping on the left side has been known to ease acid reflux and heartburn. You’re less likely to snore because it keeps the airways open. Which is why this is the best sleep position for people with sleep apnea. Also, snoozing on the left side is especially good during pregnancy. It has been shown to improve circulation to the heart while preventing strain on the lower back.
However, there are some drawbacks to this sleeping position. When you tuck in at night with your arm under or behind your head, you may adversely affect your muscles and nerves. Resting on a single arm can restrict blood flow and press down on the nerves. This can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night with painful pins and needles sensation. Plus, when one side of your face is pressed against a pillow, it can cause premature wrinkles.
Sleep professionals will often tell you that sleeping on your stomach is one of the worst sleep positions you can choose. Mostly because it flattens the natural curve of your spine, leading to lower back pain. Sleeping this way also puts pressure on your muscles and joints, leading to numbness, tingling, and aches. Plus, having your head turned to one side all night strains the neck. If you love sleeping on your stomach, try to do so with your face flat down with an extra pillow on your forehead to create room to breathe.
According to Sleep.org, only 8% of people sleep on their backs. Which is surprising because it has been touted to be the best sleep position. It’s neutral on your spine and neck, helping keep them in line without any extra pressure. Jonathan FitzGordon, an alignment specialist in Brooklyn, New York, says to the most ideal position is on your back with no pillow, “it’s optimal because it allows your spine to rest with its natural curves in place” (source). Another nice benefit for back sleepers is that it can help prevent wrinkles. Your face isn’t pressed down and gravity helps pull your facial muscles in a relaxing neutral position.
If you’re known to get acid reflux during the night, snoozing on your back can help. Just use a pillow to elevate and support your head. You want to make sure that your stomach is below your esophagus, preventing food and stomach acid from coming back up.
The only known drawback is that back sleeping can cause snoring. It also leads to more instances of sleep apnea. Gravity can force the base of the tongue into the airway when sleeping on your back. This obstructs breathing and creates one roar of a snore.
What’s Best For You
The most important thing about your sleep position is that you wake up feeling rested without aches and pains. Stretching before and after sleep can help no matter what position is your favorite. You can always talk to your doctor about what sleep position is best for your specific health conditions.
Want to know what type of sleeper you are? Make sure to take our quiz for more insight into how to get a better night’s sleep!
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