Over the last decade we have learnt a lot about sleep and with years of research from neuroscientist, scientists and psychologists, we are now understanding the importance of sleep. Sleep has become known as an essential part of living a healthier and happier life so it is vital that you learn how to do it correctly.
We’ve already discussed some things you can do to improve your sleep in our blog: sleep smarter book review
however, we’ve never looked into the details of the positions that you can sleep in and some of the research is quite interesting. After some digging this is what I found.
It’s said that we spend 1/3 of our whole life in bed sleeping, just to put that into perspective that is 26 years or 9,490 days just lying there, so it is important that you find the position that suits you best for not just your comfort but your health as well.
Sleeping on your back
Sleeping in this position is not the most popular, however, it is considered to be the best for you. By lying on your back at night, you’re allowing your muscles and bones to fully relax. due to your spine being fully supported in a natural position inline with your head and neck. You definitely won’t be causing any extra problems such as curvatures or creases to your body as you are not adding any strain with bends. It may be useful to add a leg raising pillow under your knees to keep you straight and confy throughout the night.
It’s believed that sleeping on your back is better for your breasts as it does not allow them to sag due to them being fully supported by your body, I wouldn’t know to much as I am a guy, but, having perkier breast can’t be a bad thing.
As you can imagine sleeping on your back is good for your skin, this can be for two main reasons. By not having much contact with your pillow you are avoiding the friction and pressure which are causing you to have breakouts. The second benefit for your skin is that you are not making your face crease up which will help prevent you from having wrinkles.
Do you ever feel like you are about to bring up your dinner as soon as you lay down? Or your chest feels like it’s about to explode because of heartburn? I know how you feel, discusting I know but, by elevating your head slightly higher than your body you can eliminate this problem entirely, to be more specific you need to make sure that your esophagus is raised slightly higher than your stomach as this is why you are suffering from acid reflux, you can do this by using a small puffy pillow
that doesn’t raise your head high enough to cause neck pain.
One of the downfalls of sleeping on your back is you are more likely to snore, this can become annoying and even cause further problems. The reason why you snore is because of your tongue pushing onto the soft tissue which in turn blocks your pharynx and makes some obstructions to your breathing.
Sleeping on your side
This position is biting at the heels of sleeping on your back as new research is suggesting it may be the best sleeping position, to find out why you will have to keep reading.
By having your legs and torso facing one way or the other, you are allowing your spine to elongate, which will help with neck and back pain although, this is not as good as sleeping on your back because you are not evenly distrusting the weight of your body. It is also advisable to use some pillows when sleeping in this position, the first would be under your head, to do this you want a pillow that will keep your head and neck in line with your spine so, you don’t want something to big that will leave you with a crick in your neck because to high, nor do want something that is to low that you are over extending your neck downwards, you may want to have a pillow with a divot
in so you don’t crush your ear. The second pillow that you may want to consider is a small lower back one, this is because your hips (especially women) and your shoulders can cause you to an unnatural arch in your back, by having a small pillow
placed here you will be supporting your lower back. The last pillow is one that goes between your legs
to keep alignment of your back and not cause any knee damage.
If you’re a snorer this position will be a lot better for you than being on your back this is because it allows good air flow through your wind pipe, this could be the reason why people report better quality of sleep when on their side.
In 2015 a study found
that 8 rats sleeping on their right side cleared waste from their brain more efficiently than 7 rats on their stomach or 9 on their back. more specifically, one of these waste products is a peptide called amyloid beta which has been seen to contribute to Alzheimer’s when there is a large build up of it, but, to generalize these findings to humans without any further information would be a bad idea… in 2018 a study found
that people with neurodegenerative disease such Alzheimer’s spend nearly twice as much time sleeping on their back than any other position so, this would suggest that sleeping on your back isn’t as good as we may think, but these are very new findings and would need extensive research to back it up. Sleeping on your side could be the best sleeping position but, only time will tell!
As we said earlier the way that you sleep can affect the condition of your skin, by having your face smushed up against your pillow you’re likely to have premature wrinkles and sleeping on your side can cause you have irritation to your skin which in turn may cause you to have spots.
When you position yourself on your side your breasts droop downwards because of gravity, this can make them become saggy as you are stretching the ligaments in your breasts.
Should you sleep on your Left or right side?
If you suffer from acid reflux and heartburn this is the next best thing to sleeping on your back. Some studies have found that sleeping on your right hand side can aggravate heartburn, they found that after eating a high fat meal right side sleepers tended to have more acid in their esophagus, one conclusion is that when you sleep on your right hand side the valve between your stomach and esophagus relaxes and allows the acid to make it’s way back up. If you have ate late or anything acidic it might be best to lay on your left hand side.
Sleeping in the fetal position
This position is like sleeping on your side… but worse, the difference is that you are tucking your knees up into your stomach, arms into your body and head Into your chest, as you can imagine this isn’t good for your aches and pains even though it’s one of the most popular. Not only is this position bad for your joints especially if you suffer from arthritis, it also restricts you from diaphragmatic breathing so, loosen up a bit.
To help stay comfortable in this you may want a long pillow
that slots into all of the crevasses that you are creating by being in this position.
As you can imagine the problems with your skin and breasts are going to be the same as sleeping on your side you are in the same position but with a sprinkle of added pain when you wake up.
Sleeping on your stomach
If you’re sleeping in this position, you need to turn your life around…literally. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position of them all for all different reasons.
You have four curves in your back and sleeping in this position affects all of them, this puts immense pressure on your back which causes pain. people who sleep like this often report numbness and tingling which is the result of the added pressure on your nerves. To make it easier to breathe you often turn your head to the side which can result in severe neck pain as you are in that position for to long.
When laying in this position you are putting enormous amount of pressure on your internal organs and you are also making it harder for yourself to breathe.
Pretty much the only benefit of sleeping on your stomach is it helps with snoring as your tongue is not pushed up to the back of your mouth allowing clear entry to your lungs.
What position for should I sleep in if...
Best sleeping position for Pregnancy
Sleeping like a baby when you’re expecting one is a very hard task especially the further down the line you are but, it is important that you get as much of it as you possibly can. The best position to sleep in if you are pregnant is known as the SOS position, although you might be calling for help it actually stands for sleep on side.
It is even better if you can manage to sleep on your left hand side as, it is said to help with blood flow which is carrying all the nutrients your baby needs to your placenta. It also helps relieve pressure of some of your vital organs.
The worst position to sleep in when you’re pregnant is on your stomach for obvious reasons and sleeping on your back isn’t the best as it can be painful and even cause haemorrhoids.
Best sleeping position for Digestion
From indigestion to heartburn trying to get to sleep with a digestive problem can be a real struggle but by making a few adaptations to your P.M posture you can relieve the anxiety of hitting the sack.
By raising your head / back of your bed by 6 – 9 inches it can alleviate all of your digestive problems. If you sleep on your side it is best to roll to the left as laying on your right has been seen to cause heartburn.
It may be useful to look into your eating habits if you are struggling with digestive problems such as, what time you eat before you go to bed and the foods that you are eating.
Best sleeping position for Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is often the result of your tongue pushing onto the muscles in the back of your throat which leads your airway being blocked, often for a long time until it wakes you up. This can be due to obesity, weak muscles, swollen tonsils and more.
The worst position for sleep apnea is laying on your back as the muscles drop to the back of your throat due to gravity.
Although sleeping on your stomach is probably the best position to relieve the blockage in your throat it can cause many other problems with the rest of your body so, it is advised that you sleep on your side. It can help if your head is slightly raised about 30 – 40 degrees if your sleep apnea is due to restricted breathing.
Best sleeping position for Back pain
I think pretty much everyone I know has moaned about back pain before and all they need to do is sleep on their back, their can be a lot of different types of pain you can suffer from so it’s best to know what you can do to help yourself.
If you are suffering from lower back pain (lumbar) it may be due to the fact that your hip is attached to your back which means when you put your legs straight, your lower back rises which causes discomfort, the way you can avoid this is by placing a pillow under your knees.
Surfer from sciatica? Well you could try rolling a sheet or towel up and wrapping around your waist ,around where a hula hoop would go, just in the gap where your back arches.
If you wake up with shoulder or neck pain you could do with getting a pillow that supports your neck to stay in a neutral position. You have a natural curve in your neck but, by always looking down at your phone all day or using the wrong shaped pillow can cause you to have flat neck syndrome which predisposes you to injury.
If you try a new position and you still are having problems with aches and pains, it may be due to your mattress. It is advised that you change your mattress every 8 years for optimal use. Not only can this Improve your comfort so you can feel revitalized in the morning, let’s be honest, there may be a few unwanted stains, creatures and creeks that would be beneficial to get rid of and be replaced with a nice fresh mattress.
You’re like princess and the pea? No problem, it is important to get the exact mattress that is right for you. Whether you like it firm, soft or right in between you should be able to find the right one from the list below!
Great pressure relief and back support for them long cozy nights in bed.
Soft on the outside, firm in the middle. This mattress allows you to get a full night's rest with its weight distribution technologies.
Not only does this mattress keep you cool, it also molds to your body whilst staying firm enough to not cause any strains
Apart from the obvious like not sleeping on your stomach when pregnant, (if that is even possible) I think it’s best to find what is right for you because, to much time stressing over sleeping in a different position to what you are used to is going to make it harder for you to get to sleep in the first place so, whatever helps you send them Z’s up at night, do that!
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