Did you know your sleeping position affects health? Yup, that’s right, choosing a good and proper sleeping position can improve sleep quality so you can get the maximum benefits of sleep. However, if you fall asleep in the wrong sleeping position, the risk of experiencing fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, heartburn, and back pain will increase. So, how do you choose a good sleeping position? In this article, we’re going to explore which is the best position to sleep in.
Is there a best position to sleep?
Yes and no. While not all positions are a good fit for everyone, some sleep positions are better than others, depending on the circumstances, such as pregnancy. In addition, each person has different health conditions that may require a different position to sleep. Therefore, a slumber posture that is good for you isn’t necessarily good for someone else. You’ll need to understand the benefits and risks of various sleeping positions before determining which one is the best for you.
The Best Sleep Positions
It’s possible to increase the quality of your rest straightforwardly: improve your posture and use the right pillow. Sleeping well is not easy. You have to know how to do it. So let’s analyze in detail what is the best position to sleep at night.
1. Supine Sleep Position
The supine sleeping position is one where both your hands are straight at your side as you sleep on your back.
Resting on your back is the best posture for a good night’s sleep. This position is ideal for avoiding back problems, as it leans with the spine straight (without forcing it) and distributes all the body’s weight equally.
When you choose to sleep on your back, consider using a thin pillow, which does not lift and arch the head too much and helps to keep the spine straight in the cervical area.
Also, if you’re one of those people who care about your appearance, you should know that sleeping on your back is a good ally that will help you fight premature aging. It fights premature aging because by sleeping in a supine position, you’ll not rest your face on the pillow and thus avoid the formation of wrinkles.
However, this position isn’t best suited for everyone, despite being the best sleep position. For example, when it comes to people who snore or suffer from sleep apnea, the tongue moves towards the pharynx, and the supine sleep position impedes air passage. Also, this position isn’t suited for pregnant women and could cause a risk of miscarriage.
If you’re about to have a baby or have just given birth to one, be aware that lying on your back is the only position recommended for babies. Pediatric associations recommend that the best position for babies to nap is on their back because this ensures maximum safety for them, minimizing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the leading cause of death in children under the age of one. Doctors recommend that babies sleep on their back for their first year of life.
2. Sleeping on your side
The next healthy sleeping position is to sleep on your side. This position is most often encouraged and considered a good sleeping position. In fact, according to sleep experts, there are several health benefits that you might feel if you sleep on your side.
For example, sleeping on your left side can improve blood circulation to the heart while reducing the risk of heartburn. Meanwhile, sleeping on your right side provides other health benefits. If you sleep on your right side, you can protect your heart from being crushed or stressed by other organs.
In addition, sleeping on your side can prevent neck pain, back pain, reduce snoring, and is beneficial for those of you who have obstructive sleep apnea or sleep disorders when your breathing temporarily stops while snoozing.
Pregnant women should sleep in this side position, particularly the left side. For pregnant women, sleeping on the left side is the best because it helps blood circulation. It’s also known to be the safest position for babies with the lowest risk of miscarriage.
Even so, this does not mean that this is the best sleeping position for everybody. The reason is, this sleep position can affect some people with specific health problems. For example, it turns out that sleeping on the right side for gastric disorders can worsen their condition.
When you doze off on your right side, the esophageal sphincter (the tube between the stomach and esophagus) is weaker. As a result, stomach acid can rise into the esophagus and cause a burning feeling in your stomach. This burning feeling can cause symptoms such as heartburn, coughing, and a sour mouth.
3. Fetal Position
The next sleeping position to consider is the fetal position. Sleeping curled up is the position most preferred by adults while dozing off. Curled sleeping position means resting on your side with your stomach and knees bent similarly to a baby.
If you curl up facing the left, this position is beneficial for pregnant women because it helps improve blood circulation to the baby. In addition, this position is also a good choice for people who have a habit of snoring.
However, sleeping curled up is not recommended for people who have arthritis (especially for people with arthritis in the back area). Those with arthritis shouldn’t rest in this sleeping position because the curled posture adds pressure to the back area and aggravates arthritis pain.
If you frequently change sleeping positions at night, try supporting your back with a bolster or pillow. That way, it will make it more difficult for you to switch to the tilted position on the right side.
4. On Your Stomach Sleep Position
Sleeping on your stomach tends to give you more health problems than you can get. In fact, experts consider that this position the worst sleeping position. Yikes!
When sleeping on your stomach, you no longer rely on your spine to support your body. You’ll be pulling the muscles in your neck until it feels uncomfortable and limiting your breathing, so doctors rarely suggest this sleep position. However, your doctor might recommend this sleeping position if you constantly snore loudly every time you enjoy your slumber. So, if you or your partner snores, you might want to try sleeping on your stomach to aggravate the non-snorer a little bit less.
However, there are also quite a lot of health problems that may arise from sleeping on your stomach. Starting from a faster heartbeat, difficulty breathing to sudden death that may occur in babies if they sleep in these conditions. If you sleep face down into a pillow and stop breathing, an adult might have a dream telling them to wake up because they aren’t breathing and will wake up gasping for air. However, babies don’t know language yet and don’t have the muscle strength to lift their heads.
Only a handful of people feel comfortable sleeping on their stomachs. Most of them experience some style changes while sleeping. So, you might toss and turn in multiple positions throughout the night. The sleep position when you wake up may have been different than the one you fell asleep in. However, you can’t control these changes during sleep.
If you still want to sleep on your stomach due to comfort or necessity, you need to know what risks might occur. At least use a thin pillow on the lower part of the stomach to support the spine. Placing a thin pillow under the stomach while sleeping can help improve the alignment of the spine. It might even strengthen it. This sleeping position is also helpful for people with hernias or degenerative diseases.
5. Starfish Position to Sleep In
The last best position to sleep in is the starfish position. The starfish pose means that you sleep on your back, with your arms and legs spread wide like a star. The first obvious benefit of this position is that the spine gets the support it needs throughout the night. Because your face doesn’t keep rubbing against the pillow, you can minimize the chance of unwanted pimples and prevent wrinkles from forming.
This sleep position is supportive for people with GERD or dyspepsia (which is just a fancy way of saying indigestion). However, the starfish sleep posture is not without drawbacks. This sleep position increases the likelihood of snoring, sleep apnea, and acid reflux. Therefore, doctors don’t recommend the starfish posture for sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), similarly to the traditional supine posture.
Best Position to Sleep In During Pregnancy
Like we hinted at throughout this article, pregnancy has its own set of rules for sleep positions. If you’re currently pregnant, you need to be mindful of how you sleep. It can also be challenging to choose a good sleeping position – especially if you’re in your third trimester with a noticeable baby bump.
During pregnancy, it’s best to rest on your side. If you sleep on your back, it can cause back pain, digestive problems, low blood pressure, and shortness of breath because your abdomen is pressing against your intestines.
Sleeping on your back also limits the number of nutrients and blood your baby gets in those crucial final months. If you sleep on your side, you avoid these problems. In addition, sleeping on your side during pregnancy can also reduce stomach acid and promote the blood circulation of both you and your baby, particularly your heart side. Some women like to sleep with a pillow between the knees during pregnancy. You can also buy a pregnancy pillow to help you find the best position to sleep while on your side. Although, you might also want to try a good mattress, king-sized. You can even try sleep apps like Declutter The Mind’s guided meditation for sleep.
Poor sleep can be bad for your health. So don’t take neck pain and back problems lightly when you wake up early in the morning. As you have just learned, all it takes is a simple change: improving your sleep position. Using the lessons above, choose your best position to sleep in based on your current situation, so you can wake up refreshed and free from pain. If you feel that you’re experiencing poor rest quality with your current sleeping position, you can change it up easily. Feel free to reach out to a sleep specialist or medical professional to choose the best position to sleep in for you.