You need to improve the quality of your sleep, so you need to do some exercises and go to bed earlier. Done. Darken the room. Done. Remove electronics and noise, have a comfy mattress and pillow – you know the drill. But what about your sleeping position?
It’s often overlooked as a contributor to the quality of your sleep, but make no mistake – a good sleeping position can work wonders. But what sleeping position is best, and how do you break old habits? Let’s go through some common sleeping positions and look at the pros and cons for each.
The most common sleeping position, and one that is quite healthy. Sleeping on your side is great for people who snore and have sleep apnea as it will limit the effects of this, while blood flow is also aided during pregnancy when sleeping on the left side. It is said that sleeping on your side can cause premature facial wrinkling but nothing conclusive has been found as yet.
The ideal pillow is one that is thick enough to fill the space between your shoulders and head without allowing your neck to rest at an angle. Overall, it’s a healthy position that will allow clear and easy breathing, and if your hair dresser is good enough they may even be able to pick which side you sleep on!
While only the second most common sleeping position, sleeping on your back has numerous health benefits. It maintains a neutral position for your head, neck and spine, helping prevent pain in those areas as well as reducing acid reflux by having your head elevated above your stomach.
However, for people who snore or have sleep apnea, sleeping on your back is not a suitable position as the position of your neck and head opens the airways to allow for this. Ideally, use a pillow that will support your head and neck without propping it up too much.
While this is a reasonably common sleeping position, it is one that should be avoided. Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on joints and muscles since it is difficult to maintain a neutral spine position. Since you have to turn your head in order to breath, neck pain can be common for those who do not move around a lot in their sleep.
For snorers, the stomach can be a good position as it keeps your upper airways open so long as you’re not experiencing neck or back pain. It’s best to use either one very thin pillow, or none at all.
Not a common position, and also one that can cause problems over a prolonged period. Due to bad neck and spin posture and knees being bent throughout the night, pain is often experienced in these areas and breathing is also impeded due to poor posture. However, this position can be useful and comfortable during pregnancy and should use one thick pillow, similar to the one used when sleeping on your side.
After all that, most doctors will recommend that you don’t change your natural sleeping position, but if you are experiencing joint pain or having breathing problems and can be a good idea to dry and break the habit of sleeping in a bad position. Find what works best for you and try to go to sleep in a healthy position. Maybe give natural pillows a try?
This is a guest post. Zak Kardachihas slept in airports, train stations, hostels and stranger’s lounge rooms all over the world, so he appreciates a good night’s sleep when he gets one. He also knows a lot about the improvement of sleep and how to make sure you chose the right mattress. For more articles about sleeping, pillows and mattresses visit the blog on OZMattress.com.au.