Guide to Sleeping Positions

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Sleeping Positions Guide
People spend roughly one-third of their lives sleeping. A good night’s sleep is a substantial factor in the quality of your overall health, and inadequate sleep can wreak havoc on you mentally and physically. The position you sleep in can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep.
So, what’s the best position for sleeping? The answer varies depending on individual health concerns such as back pain, neck pain, and acid reflux, to name a few. It also depends on which position is the most comfortable for you. Above all, you should avoid sleeping in any position that causes stiffness or pain.

Pros and Cons of Common Sleeping Positions

1) Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on your back is one of the most highly recommended sleeping positions.
Pros: 

  • Acid reflux sufferers can avoid nighttime heartburn in this position
  • Keeps the spine in a neutral, comfortable position
  • Some back pain patients find relief sleeping on their backs

Cons:

  • Those who snore may snore louder in this position

Tip: Sleeping on your back may be more comfortable with a pillow under your knees.

2) Sleeping on Your Side

If sleeping on your back is uncomfortable or painful, sleeping on your side is also a highly recommended position.
Pros:

  • Reduces snoring
  • Eases neck pain and back pain
  • Reduces acid reflux if you sleep on your left side
  • During pregnancy, sleeping on your side can improve blood flow and provide more comfort than sleeping on the back or stomach

Cons:

  • Side sleeping may increase the chance of developing wrinkles and sagging skin on the side you favor

Tip: Try a pillow between your knees, under your waist or under your neck in this position.

3) Sleeping in Fetal Position

About 40 percent of people sleep in some variety of the fetal position, on their sides with legs curled up toward the chest. While fetal position may feel comfortable for some sleepers, it is not a recommended sleeping posture.
Pros:

  • Often a comforting position

Cons:

  • Restricts expansion of the diaphragm, which leads to shallow breathing
  • Can increase pain from arthritis
  • Can causes tension, aches, and pains

Tip: If fetal position is your normal sleeping posture, try stretching your legs out a bit into side sleeping instead.

4) Sleeping on Your Stomach

Pros:

  • For snorers, sleeping on your stomach provides relief by opening the airways

Cons:

  • Causes pressure on the joints, muscles, and spine and can lead to neck and back pain
  • Difficult to avoid putting pressure on the spine
  • Spending hours with your head turned to the side is bad for the cervical spine and can cause nerve pain

Tip: If you must sleep on your stomach, aim for a very thin pillow or sleep without a pillow to avoid straining your neck.

Choosing the Right Mattress and Pillow

The position you sleep in can influence your quality of sleep, and so can your sleeping equipment.
Choose a mattress that is firm enough to support your body in your ideal sleeping position. A sagging, limp mattress can certainly lead to a lackluster night’s sleep. Since the life of a mattress is typically five to seven years, periodically replace your mattress if possible. Additionally, flipping your mattress every few months can help it stay firm longer.
Pillows also play an important role in your rest. Depending on your sleeping position, you may need a fluffier pillow or a thinner one. Regardless of which you choose, remember to consider how much support you will need for the head and neck in each sleeping posture.
For instance, when you sleep on your side, your head needs plenty of support from a thicker, firm pillow so your neck doesn’t end up at an awkward angle. When sleeping on your back, a fluffy pillow keeps your head and neck supported without strain. Ergonomic pillows tend to be firm and shaped specifically to relieve pain from lack of support while sleeping.
If you’re not getting adequate sleep on a consistent basis, or you’re not sure which sleeping position is ideal for you, a doctor of chiropractic can guide you to the best ergonomic sleeping position for your health concerns.
Image Copyright: imagehitasia / 123RF Stock Photo

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