We all know how important sleep is and how much we should be getting per night, but what about our sleeping position? How important is the way we position our body to our overall health?
You may be surprised to learn that our body’s position as we sleep can have serious health consequences for conditions like chronic pain, acid reflux, sleep apnea, and snoring.
Read on about the pros and cons of the most common sleeping positions to determine the best one for you.
On your back, arms down by your sides
Pros: This is generally considered to be the best position for back health, as it neutralizes the spine, so if you experience back or neck pain you may want to give it a try! It can also reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.
Cons: Sleeping on your back makes you more likely to snore, and sleep apnea is more strongly correlated with this position.
Pros: Many people find this to be the most comfortable position, as it keeps you warmer and can make you feel more protected and secure. It also reduces snoring, and can be especially comfortable for pregnant women.
Cons: Many of us spend all day hunched over at a desk or computer, so we probably don’t want to do the same thing at night—and that’s exactly the shape that our spine takes when we’re in the fetal position. If you have back or neck pain, or if you tend to slouch or hunch, sleeping in this position will not help!
On your side, body straight
Pros: This is a great position for those who experience both back pain and snoring. Keeping your body straight keeps your spine in a neutral position, which can relieve back and neck pain, while remaining on your side reduces snoring. Sleeping this way is particularly good for pregnant women, who should sleep on their left side.
Cons: Some claim that sleeping on your side can contribute to sagging skin and breasts, but no research has been done on this phenomenon.
On your stomach
Pros: This position will reduce snoring. It’s also sometimes recommended for those with degenerative diseases or herniated discs in the central portion of the spine.
Cons: This is probably the least healthy sleeping position, and should be avoided by most people, especially pregnant women, as it can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on the abdominal region. It also puts a lot of strain on the neck, as you’re forced to turn your head to one side or the other all night when you sleep this way. It can also exacerbate lower back pain.
It can be hard to adjust to a new sleeping position, as most of us have been sleeping the same way, night after night, for many years. However, if you experience chronic back or neck pain, or are trying to reduce sleep apnea, snoring, or acid reflux, you may want to re-examine your sleep position, as your body may be asking you to find a new way to sleep.