We spend almost a third of our lives sleeping, so why not make it worthwhile? It’s a big part of our lives, even if we don’t regularly get the chance to sleep for eight hours straight. Sleeping has a huge effect on your life, and your sleeping posture contributes to that. How you sleep can be the reason why you have lower back pain, waking up tired and sleepy, or the reason you might have sleep apnea. Your posture has a vital role in your life that you need to start taking care of. It’s not about the position that makes you the most comfortable, but rather the position that’s good for your body.
Some studies say that the perfect way to sleep is on your side, while other studies proved that sleeping on your back is healthier. There’s no definitive answer to the ideal sleeping position, but you can know what your body needs and adjust your sleeping posture accordingly.
Here’s everything you need to know to choose the ideal way to sleep.
Fetal and Side Position
The fetal position is when you sleep on your side with your legs curled up and your knees close to your chest. It’s the most common sleeping position, especially among women, and has many benefits. This position allows your spine to rest in its natural position, so if you have lower back problems, this position is for you. Some studies claim that this position allows your brain to clear out waste, which can prevent or lower the chances of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Fetal sleeping position is also known to be good for pregnant women in their third trimester. However, the fetal position has its downsides as it could limit your lungs and cause breathing problems. It’s recommended to sleep on your side with your spine a little loose and without curling your legs up. Add a pillow between your knees for more comfort. A pillow helps your spine to relax and removes tension in your hips and legs.
Sleeping on your side, especially your left side, is better than sleeping in the fetal position. It reduces heartburn, improves your digestion, and helps reduce snoring. The downsides of sleeping on your side are that it might cause pain to your shoulders, lead to jaw tightness, and some people say that it contributes to wrinkles. If you prefer to sleep on your side or in a fetal position, you must choose the right pillow to avoid shoulder and neck pain.
On Your Back
Sleeping on your back offers the most benefits to your spine, knees, and neck, but it could cause serious health problems if done incorrectly. When you sleep on your back, your body is perfectly aligned with your spine and is resting in its ideal position. Your head, neck, shoulders, and spine are in neutral positions, which will reduce neck and shoulder pain in the morning. It’s recommended to use a pillow below your knees for a perfect sleeping posture to reduce lower and upper back pain. If you have snoring problems but prefer sleeping on your back, using chin straps for CPAP is your solution. Chin straps keep your mouth closed while sleeping and reduce snoring. However, if you’re struggling with sleep apnea or have severe lower back problems, it’s preferred that you avoid this sleeping position. People with heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or any digestive problems must not sleep on their back as it might worsen the symptoms.
On Your Stomach
A very small percentage of people prefer sleeping on their stomachs. It’s known as the prone position, and it’s common among infants. Sleeping on your stomach requires the ribs to do extra work to elevate the body while breathing because it moves against gravity. It also removes all flexibility from your spinal cord, which can damage it. Infants who sleep on their stomachs usually have a higher heart rate, and it might cause sudden death or severe respiratory problems. For infants, it’s better if they sleep on their back to avoid any possible risks; adults should also not sleep on their stomachs. However, if you’re struggling with sleep apnea or that’s the only position that comforts you, try placing a pillow under your pelvis and stomach and use a flat pillow or no pillow at all under your head to reduce any damage to your spine.
Choosing the Right Position for your Body
Now that you know the pros and cons of each sleeping position, it’s time to know which position is ideal for your body. First, you should know that the right posture is based on your age, back, neck, and shoulder pain, pregnancy, snoring, or any medical problem. If you’re suffering from lower and upper back pain, sleeping on your back is the ideal choice. It contributes your weight across your entire spine and doesn’t put a load on a certain area, but without a pillow under your knees, your back pain might get worse. Sleeping on the side also improves your upper and lower back.
The ideal sleeping position for those in their third trimester of pregnancy or who suffer from sleep apnea or snoring is on their left side or in a fetal position. Keep in mind to keep your back loose when sleeping in the fetal position to avoid any back problems. Always place a pillow between your legs to reduce any pressure on your spine and tension in your legs; this will improve your sleep quality and help you enjoy deeper sleep.
It’s challenging to change your sleeping posture because your body will return to its favorite position once you’re asleep. However, with practice and time, you can change your sleeping posture. Whatever position you feel is better for you, make sure to use the right support for it. When sleeping on your back, add a pillow underneath your knees and use a chin strap if you snore. The same applies to the side or in the fetal position, and avoid sleeping on your stomach.