Most people think that the quality of sleep depends only on getting enough hours. However, there’s more to it than that. Your sleeping position also matters. The way you sleep can potentially cause snoring, neck and back pain, muscle cramping, heartburn and even premature wrinkles. Everyone has their favorite position that they find the easiest to fall asleep in. However, it’s not impossible to train yourself to sleep in a new position. So, if you’re wondering what is the best sleeping position, keep on reading the list below from best to worst.
Back sleeping position might not be the most popular, with only about 8% of people sleeping on their back, but it does provide the most benefits. It’s by far the healthiest option.
Sleeping on your back is good for your spine and neck health. It keeps your body in even alignment and is not forcing your back into any contortions. The mattress also perfectly supports the spine, reducing any unnecessary pressure on your back and joints.
Sleeping on your back can also prevent acid reflux. However, it’s important to choose the right pillow for this. It’s best to have a thin pillow, which would lift your head only slightly, so that your stomach is positioned below your esophagus. This will prevent acid from coming up your digestive tract. At the same time, it’s also important that the pillow isn’t too high. If your chin is tilted too far down toward your chest, it can make the breathing more difficult.
The back sleeping position is also the best for those who want to keep their face fresh and wrinkle free for longer. Spending all the nights without your face smooshed against a pillow helps to prevent those wrinkles.
Unfortunately, back sleeping position also has its downsides. This sleeping position is linked to sleep apnea and snoring. When we sleep facing the ceiling, gravity pulls the tongue to the back of our throat, which obstructs breathing and leads to the unpleasant snoring noises. So, this position is not recommended for those who suffer from sleep apnea.
It’s also worth mentioning that sleeping on your back doesn’t necessarily lead to a good night’s rest. One study that compared sleep positions of young adults and their quality of sleep found that it was actually the people that spend more time on their backs who had a worse quality of sleep.
How To Get the Most Out of the Back Sleeping Position
You can place a pillow under your knees, which will give extra support for the natural curve of your back.
The vast majority of people sleep on their sides, making up about 63% of all sleepers. This sleep position also includes different variations, such as the log, the yearner and the fetus (more on this one below).
First of all, sleeping on your side, with your torso and legs relatively straight, is good for neck and back pain since it keeps your head, neck and back aligned. Especially, if you put a pillow between your knees, it will help to better align your hips and will take off pressure from your lower back.
This position is also great for pregnant women since it doesn’t put pressure on the lower back as it does in the back sleeping position.
It’s also recommended to sleep on your left side, which due to arrangement of your internal organs, helps to increase circulation to the heart and improves digestion.
Another benefit of sleeping on your side is that it keeps your airways open and your esophagus slightly elevated. This helps to prevent snoring, sleep apnea, heartburn and acid reflux. So, if you’re suffering from any of these, try to switch to sleeping on your side.
At the same time, sleeping on your side also has its drawbacks. First of, it’s the dreaded numb arm. Most people put the arm behind the head but it can still affect its muscles and nerves since you restrict the blood flow and you put pressure on the nerves.
Secondly, since a lot of the body’s weight goes onto your shoulder for support, it can result in shoulder pain and stiffness.
Side sleeping can also result in more face wrinkles since you spend most of the night with your face pressed against a pillow. For women, this position can also lead to sagging breasts as a result of gravity.
How To Get the Most Out of the Side Sleeping Position
To keep your spine in proper alignment as you sleep on your side, invest in a good mattress. For example, memory foam mattresses support every curvature of your body, embracing all the pressure points and providing the necessary support.
On top of that, get a good pillow. Or even two. First one, which you’ll put under your head, should be of the right height to keep your neck and spine aligned. The second one you can put between your knees, which will help to avoid lower back pain.
Among side sleepers and among all sleepers in general, the fetal position is the most popular. About 41% of people sleep on their side in a tight ball with their knees curled up toward the body.
This position allows for the natural alignment of the spine. It helps to reduce snoring and sleep apnea. And it’s also good for pregnant women. Sleeping on your left side, as we’ve mentioned above, improves circulation to the uterus.
The downsides to this position come up when you’re curled up too tight. This can restrict your deep breathing and can cause your lower back to arch in an unnatural manner. So, to avoid this, just stretch out a bit and don’t bring your knees too high up.
In most cases, sleeping on your stomach isn’t doing you any favors. It does help to reduce snoring and sleep apnea. However, that’s pretty much where the benefits end.
This position makes it hard for your spine to keep a neutral position, which can lead to lower back pain. Also, since you keep your head jammed to the side all night, it can leave you with a sore neck in the morning. On top of that, you put unnecessary pressure on your muscles and joints, which can lead to you waking up sore and tired.
How To Get the Most Out of the Stomach Sleeping Position
If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, try skipping the pillow or at least choose one that is very thin. A high pillow will just add more stress on your neck. You can also add pillow under your pelvis in order to reduce lower back pain.
Since we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, it’s good to practice good sleep habits. It can benefit our health and well-being. Good sleep habits involve not only getting enough sleep but also getting quality sleep. And your sleep position might be the key to that. However, at the same time, if you are not having any issues and you wake up feeling well rested, you don’t have to do any changes. Just do what feels best for you.