Getting good, restful sleep is essential to the health and well-being of both body and mind. If you are having trouble getting the good night’s sleep you need to wake up in the morning feeling rested, revitalized and energized, you might want to rethink how you sleep. Your sleeping position can certainly affect how well you sleep at night, as well as how you feel the next morning. So, what is the best sleeping position? The answer to that question will vary from one person to another, since no two people are exactly alike. Here we’ll investigate different sleeping positions and how to make the best of each one.
Side Sleeping Positions
If you sleep on your side, you have a lot of company. This is the most common sleeping position by far, with more than half of all people most comfortable snoozing in one of several side-sleeping positions. It is also the most frequently recommended position for pregnant women, since other sleep positions can put pressure on the back and internal organs, and people who snore or are diagnosed with sleep apnea, since side sleeping can reduce their symptoms. Most common is the fetal position – lying on one side with the knees pulled up towards the chest. Other side-sleepers stretch out, arms out in front of them, or in the log position, with legs straight and arms at their sides.
Getting good sleep in a side sleeping position means making sure that your spine is properly aligned. That means sleeping on a good mattress – one that supports proper body alignment to keep your spine in an ideal, neutral position and conforms to your pressure points (hips and shoulders for side sleepers). Choosing a pillow that keeps your head and neck straight as you sleep is important too, and so is making sure you’re not pulling your knees up so far that your spine is rounded, spoiling the natural curve of the spine. Taking these steps can help reduce tossing and turning during the night, promoting better sleep, and help prevent neck and shoulder pain in the morning – common problems for side sleepers, especially log sleepers.
Back Sleeping Positions
People who sleep on their back assume the second most common sleeping position. Sleeping flat on the back, arms stretched out along the sides, known as the soldier position, is the position most back sleepers use to get comfortable. Starfish sleepers – people who sleep on their backs with their arms over their heads – account for smaller percentage of back sleepers.
Back sleeping can be the best position in terms of keeping the neck and back in a healthy, neutral position – provided you are sleeping on a high-quality, firm and supportive mattress. Placing a pillow under your knees to keep them slightly bent can support that healthy alignment, as can sleeping with a thin, supportive pillow or none to promote good neck alignment. If you suffer with acid reflux or heartburn regularly, elevating your head slightly while sleeping on your back can help. Lastly, if you are a back sleeper with a snoring problem or sleep apnea, you might want to work on becoming a side sleeper to get a good night’s sleep, since sleeping on your back can worsen the symptoms of both.
Stomach Sleeping Positions
Stomach sleeper aren’t as common as side or back sleepers, but there are still plenty of them. If you sleep on your stomach, chances are that you assume the freefall position, since it is the most common among stomach sleepers. Freefall sleepers lie flat on their chests, with heads turned to the side and arms over their heads or wrapped around their pillows. This position is widely considered the worst sleeping position, since lying on your stomach flattens the natural curve of the spine and places the neck in an unnatural position. However, it can have some benefit in reducing snoring and sleep apnea.
If sleeping on your stomach is the most comfortable position for you, there are things you can do to reduce the impact on your back and neck. Placing a thin pillow under your pelvis can help bring your spine back into proper alignment and using a very thin pillow or none, can reduce neck strain.
Do Sleep Positions Affect Your Dreams?
According to Everyday Health there is some evidence that your sleeping position can affect your dreams. For instance, stomach sleepers may have more erotic dreams than those who sleep on their back or side. Back sleepers may experience more nightmares than other sleepers, and people who sleep on their left side may have more nightmares than right-side sleepers.
Which Is the Best Direction to Sleep?
Sleep on the left side has its benefits for those suffering with heartburn, since right-side sleeping can worsen symptoms. Pregnant women should sleep on their left side as well for optimal blood flow for mother and baby and left-side sleeping may promote more efficient blood flow back to the heart for everyone than does right-side sleeping. However, Medical Daily also notes that left-side sleeping may increase pressure on organs, like the liver and lungs, so if you have breathing or liver trouble, sleeping on your right side may be best.
The bottom line is that the best sleeping position for you is the one in which you are most comfortable. Unless your current sleeping position is causing health problems or worsening existing ones, trying to change it is likely to cause more harm than good in terms of restful sleep. According to Everyday Health, sleeping in positions that are unnatural or unfamiliar can interfere with the quality of your sleep and impact your health.