Sleeping Positions and How They Affect Your Health
Your sleeping position can have a major impact on how you sleep and your overall health. Poor posture while sleeping can cause a number of problems, mainly neck and back pain, sleep apnea, fatigue, cramping, poor circulation, heartburn and even wrinkles. Maintaining and taking care of our health is important even when we’re asleep.
On Your Back, Arms At Side
Sleeping on your back with your arms at your sides is generally considered the best sleeping position, for both your spine and neck health, as long as you don’t use too many pillows. Only eight percent of people sleep on their backs. Sleeping facing the ceiling is also ideal for combating acid reflux, as long as your head is elevated and supported enough.
The problem with sleeping on your back is that your tongue can block and restrict your airways, and cause danger to those who suffer from sleep apnea. It can also make snoring more severe.
On Your Side
Fifteen percent of adults choose to sleep on their side. The position, where your torso and legs are straight, also helps to decrease acid reflux, and since your spine is elongated, it keeps back and neck pain at bay. You’re also less likely to snore in this position because your airways aren’t blocked, which is good for those with sleep apnea.
The downside? Sleeping with one side of your face pushed against a pillow can cause wrinkles.
The fetal position is the most popular among adults, with 41 percent saying they prefer to sleep like this. This position is great if you’re pregnant, because it improves circulation in your body and in the fetus. It prevents your uterus from pressing against your liver (which is one the right side). This position is also good for people who snore, but don’t curl up into a tight ball—it can restrict breathing in your diaphragm.
If you’ve got arthritis in your joints or back, it’s better that you sleep with your body straighter, because if you stay in the fetus position for too long, it will be painful to get up in the morning.
On Your Stomach
Seven percents of adult sleep in this position. The only good thing about sleeping on your stomach is that it eases snoring, that’s it. Unless you can somehow breathe through your pillow, you’re bound to turn your neck to get some air, which can lead to neck and back pain. Stomach sleepers also put pressure on their muscles and joints, which can cause numbness, tingling, aches and irritated nerves.
The “Starfish” Position
Sleeping on your back with your arms up is also good for your back and neck, but is also terrible for sleep apnea. Sleeping on your back can also prevent facial wrinkles and breakouts. Also, having your arms up can result in unnecessary pressure on your shoulder nerves and cause pain.
Strictly On the Right Side
If you’re a side-sleeper, which side you sleep on also makes a difference. Sleeping on the right side can worsen heartburn while sleeping on the left side can put strain on internal organs like the liver, lungs, and stomach (while minimizing acid reflux). For pregnant sleepers, doctors typically advise sleeping on the left side, since this can improve circulation to the fetus.