Ever wondered how different sleeping positions affect your health? What are the different positions to sleep in? Or, how to sleep in each position properly?
Well, wonder no more!
In this article, we’ll break it all down for you.
From what the 3 main positions are to the good, the bad and the ugly of each to tips on resting in each one properly.
The Prone Position
Prone means to sleep on your front in medical terms.
According to Sleep.org, this position is not the most popular. Only about 7% of the US population tends to rest on their stomach.
I’m not sure why – it’s actually one of my favorite positions, though I try NOT to sleep like this when I’m conscious and awake. More on why below!
In the medical community, unless under doctor’s orders, the prone position is not something that healthcare professionals advocate.
Because it causes more damage to the body than its worth! Especially, if you’re sleeping in that posture for 8+ hours each night.
So, let’s talk about the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Reduces sleep Apnea
- Prevents snoring
- Helps with digestion
- Feels good
- Possible crick in the neck the next morning
- Misaligned the spine for a long period of time
- Pain, soreness, stiffness and/or numbness in muscles and joints
- Potential cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- Spend more money on seeing a physiotherapist or chiropractor
- Potential cause of death by suffocation
How to Sleep on Your Stomach Properly
If you’re a stomach-sleeper and find it hard to sleep in any of the other positions, at least follow some of these safety tips:
- Train yourself to sleep on your back
- No joke – this is probably the best you can do for your health.
- Make sure your spine is aligned
- This means no twisting of the neck to the side – you’ll have to use props
- Use pillows are props
- Sleep with as many as you see fit
- One for under the belly (to relieve pressure on the lower back), one under each foot, one under the forehead to support a straight back and anywhere else you think you need more support
- Change positions throughout the night
- This is natural as most people don’t stick to just one position the entire night
- Encourages blood circulation and prevents muscle soreness
The Lateral Decubitus Position
Lateral Decubitus is the medical term for sleeping on your side.
According to Sleep.org, this is the most popular and comfortable position to sleep in as 41% of Americans choose to rest on their side.
Now, there is a difference between sleeping on your right and on your left. I bet this is a new knowledge for some of you!
Right vs Left Side
The difference between sleeping on your right or left is negligible if you’re a healthy, fit person.
However, if you regularly experience heartburn or have digestive issues, it may make all the difference.
Most professionals support sleeping on the left side over the right.
Because of human anatomy – our stomach, spleen, pancreas, and heart are on the left side.
So if you sleep on the left, you won’t be fighting gravity to keep your stomach acid from traveling up your esophagus or make it harder for your heart to pump blood through your veins.
Makes sense, right?
Let’s see how this position is good, bad and ugly for you.
- Prevent snoring and reduce sleep apnea
- Helps with heartburn, digestion and blood circulation
- Left side is Ideal for pregnant women
- Encourages facial wrinkles
- Numbness, soreness or stiffness in shoulders
- Potential cause of AFib – Atrial Fibrillation – a type of heart arrhythmia
- Sleeping on the right while pregnant may not deliver enough blood flow and nutrients to the fetus
How to Sleep on the Side Properly
Believe it or not, your spine can still be misaligned when sleeping on your side, so here are some tips to follow:
- Remember to stay on your left side
- Use pillows are props to keep your spine aligned
- When sleeping on the side, I use 3 extra pillows – one between the knees, one behind me and one in front to hug.
- I find that I must have a pillow to hug when I’m sleeping on my side, or else the shoulder I’m not sleeping on just collapses on my body due to gravity. Not the comfiest to lie in for a long period of time.
- Elevate your head to align neck to spine
- When I turned to the side, I put a smaller pillow underneath my normal one to increase the height. This way my neck and spine are in a straight line and my body weight doesn’t crush the shoulder I’m lying on.
The Supine Position
This means to sleep on your back.
Most healthcare professionals will advise people to sleep in this position as it keeps the head, neck, and spine in neutral alignment the best. And, there’s less of a chance to develop any pain the next morning.
Of course, if you have any special conditions, listen to your doctor and body accordingly.
Let’s jump right into the good, the bad and the ugly.
- No acid reflux – no heartburn
- Keeps head, neck and spine aligned – no crick in the neck here!
- No premature facial wrinkles
- Encourages snoring and Sleep Apnea
- Not for pregnant women
- Nothing ugly with this one!
How to Properly Sleep on Your Back
Although it’s hard to mess this one up, there are a few tips to get the best out of sleep in the supine position:
- Keep a pillow under the knee
- This supports blood circulation and relieves any pressure on the lower back
- Lose the pillow under your head
- A pillow too high can do more damage than no pillow at all. If you don’t need it, then try to sleep without one to better align the head and neck to the spine.
There you go!
Hope you learned something new in this article that can help you get a better night’s rest!
Tell us: What position do you usually sleep in? After this article, what changes will you make to your sleeping arrangements?