When you crawl into bed
after a long day, you might not think much about the position in which you fall
asleep. However, many studies have been carried out over the years about the
effects of different sleeping positions on your body, and the way you sleep can
be linked to all sorts of things from the likelihood that you’ll have
nightmares, to back pain.
So, how does your favorite
sleep position measure up?
Around 10% of people sleep on their back, and if you sleep like this then you may well have
a long-suffering spouse who complains about your snoring. When you lie on your
back, the base of your tongue collapses into the back of your throat, and this
vibration creates noisy snoring. If you have sleep apnea, then back sleeping
can worsen the condition.
The good news is that sleeping
on your back can evenly distribute your weight, so if you have back or neck
pain then this can ease the pressure. Some studies have shown that it can also
help prevent wrinkles and sagging breasts. However, you should consider using a
fairly thin pillow designed for back sleeping, and also use a second pillow
under your knees for a more natural position.
Front sleeping can be a
good way to reduce snoring, and about 16% of people sleep in this position. However,
it also has a number of negative health effects. Sleeping on your stomach means
there’s no support for the spine, so there’s pressure on both joints and muscles, and
this position has also been shown to cause wrinkles.
If you’re a front sleeper
and suffer from back pain because of the position, then it’s best to try and
wean yourself out of the habit. Some experts recommend taping a small, hard
object such as an uncooked pea onto your stomach. This will stop you
inadvertently rolling onto your stomach at night.
The majority of the
population are side sleepers, and the good news is, it’s generally considered
the best position for your health. You’re less likely to snore, have back or
neck pain, and even cut your long-term risk of certain neurological conditions.
Experts also agree that
sleeping on your left can help with heartburn and acid reflux, but the bad news
is that it is associated with having more frequent nightmares. Those who sleep
on the right tend to move around more at night, and this position can slow down
your circulation, so you feel less comfortable.
Those who sleep on their
side can still be prone to back or joint pains. The ideal position for side
sleepers is to use a pillow that is thick enough to keep your neck and spine
aligned, then a small one under your waist, plus a pillow between your knees. However,
there are pillows designed for side sleepers, as well as mattresses that can
keep your joints comfortable.
If you’re waking up feeling
stiff or sore, snoring, or just finding it difficult to sleep, then changing
your position may improve your sleep quality.