There are 3 basic Sleeping Positions: Back, Side and Stomach. We use different variations of these basic positions or one of these positions to make ourselves comfortable during sleeping.
All these sleeping positions have benefits and downsides. That is why they will also affect your health.
Among these sleeping positions, side sleeping is the most commonly used position for sleeping.
Now let us see what are the benefits and downsides of these positions and how will they affect you.
Back Sleeping Position.
Sleeping on your back (supine position) means lying horizontally with the face and torso facing up. Sleeping on your back is by far the healthiest way to sleep.
It allows resting your head, neck, and spine throughout the night.
This position will provide a perfect alignment for your body and will not put extra pressure on your joints.
In this way, you will not experience pain in your shoulder and knees. But while sleeping on your back your tongue might fall back. This will create an obstruction of the breathing tube.
This does not happen to everyone. But if you suffer from sleep apnea this can be dangerous.
As you can see there are benefits and some side effects of sleeping on your back. Let us take a quick look at them.
This particular position has multiple benefits let us see some of them.
It is a good position for spine health. The alignment of your spine will be in a neutral position. Your mattress can now do its work and give necessary support to your body.
Good for Cosmetics.
Sleeping on your back means that your face will be out in the air rather than against a pillow. This means less friction and less pressure on your face. This position will prevent you from any unwanted sleep lines.
In this way sleeping on the back has an edge over other positions in terms of cosmetic value.
There will be no pressure on your internal organs in this position. This will be beneficial for your circulation or if you have night sweats.
Acid reflux remedy.
This position can also help you with acid reflux but for that, you have to elevate your head and upper part of the body. For this, you can use a wedge pillow or an adjustable bed.
- Are you troubled by Acid reflux at night? If you want you can read our article on” Acid reflux remedy. “
Neck Pain and Shoulder Pain:
Sleeping on the back will affect both your shoulder and neck. To get the relief you should put your hands on your chest or abdomen. You can also let them rest on your sides.
Do not put one or both hands above your head. This will stretch the muscles of your shoulder which will aggravate your neck and shoulder pain.
- Is neck pan troubling you? Then you can read our article on “Stiff Neck Remedy.”
Lower Back Pain or Sciatica:
Put a pillow (a wedge pillow is recommended) or fold a towel and put it under your knees. This way your weight will be evenly distributed throughout your back.
This will decrease the strain on your pressure points and help you get relief and good sleep.
Sleeping on your back can sometimes be unhealthy. let us see when you should avoid this position.
Sleep Apnoea and Snoring.
While sleeping on the back the episodes of snoring and sleep apnoea are going to increase. There are various studies done that correlate back sleeping position to sleep apnoea and snoring.
A research study has shown how changing the sleeping position from back to other positions can help you decrease the episode of snoring and sleeping.
If you don’t want to change your sleeping position, then you can use a wedge pillow for elevating your head and also providing the required support. You can also use an adjustable bed.
Now let us see how you can make your back sleeping more comfortable. For this, you will need a perfect pillow and a perfect mattress.
What should you look for a pillow for a back Sleeping Positions?
Best pillow for back sleepers:
For a comfortable sleep in the back position, you will need a pillow that suits you in that position. The best pillow for back sleepers should not be too high or too firm.
This will push your neck and head forward. This will make an awkwardly sharp angle for your neck.
Spending the entire night in this position with this angle can result in neck pain and shoulder ache.
This will result in a stiff neck, shoulder ache, and also headache.
Ideally, you would like to maintain a smooth curve and no sharp awkward angles.
A medium-soft pillow with medium firmness and about 2″ height or loft will be best.
Try not to use too many pillows.
Who should be sleeping in back position?
• If you are elderly, you can choose this position.
• Prone to night sweats, then try sleeping on the back.
• Having GI problems like acid reflux, choose to sleep on the back by elevating your head.
• The trouble with cold, nasal congestion, or allergies, back sleeping can help.
• Sleep interruption due to shoulder pain, neck pain, headache, or costochondritis (arthritis of the ribs). Then sleep on your back.
Side Sleeping Positions:
Do you sleep on your side? If you do, you are not alone. Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position. According to a post published on PRNewswire, a survey was conducted in 2012 by Anna’s Linens. The survey shows 74% of Americans sleep on their sides.
Sleeping on a side is considered both healthy and comfortable.
By sleeping on your side you can maintain a neutral position for your head, neck, and spine, thus preventing unnecessary pressure on your discs, muscles, and nerves.
This position has many benefits so let us see what are the benefits and side effects of this position.
Side sleeping positions have many benefits. It is also comfortable and healthy. Let us take a look at some of the health benefits.
Sleep Apnoea and Snoring Relief:
Episodes of Sleep Apnoea and Snoring decreases while you sleep on your side.
There are many studies that suggest that this position can be used as a postural therapy for sleep apnoea and snoring remedy.
Here is a case study of a 37-year-old overweight individual. This person was suffering from sleep apnea and also hand snoring episodes.
In his case side, sleeping positions reduced the episodes of snoring and sleep apnoea.
Like this study, there are many other studies published in Pubmed. Feel free to check them.
- If you want to read more researchers and learn more then, you can read our articles on “18 Remedies for Snoring” and also on “Sleep Apnoea.“
Having a healthy heart is very important. Sleeping position can also influence your heart. Sleeping on your side will be very helpful for your heart.
Especially if you are suffering from Congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.
But even if you are not suffering then it is worthwhile to check out the reasons for sleeping on your right side and how will it help your heart.
- If you are interested I suggest you read our articles on “Best sleeping positions for a Healthy Heart.”
Acid reflux and GI problems.
Sleeping on your side will help in giving relief to acid reflux at night. It will also help indigestion.
The exact reason for this is not known. Some researchers suggest that sleeping on your left side creates a sharper angle.
This angel prevents stomach acids from returning to your esophagus.
Some researchers also suggest that right-side sleeping will delay the acid clearing time.
“Sleep on your left side to get relief from heartburn or Acid reflux at night.”
A headache, Shoulder Pain and Neck Pain Relief:
Side sleeping will keep your spine alignment at a neutral position. This will be helpful for your neck pain and shoulder pain.
This will also help in case you are having headaches due to a stiff neck.
But choose the side in which you don’t have shoulder pain.
For Pregnant women.
It is always advisable for a pregnant woman to sleep on her left side. This will help the mother to avoid backache and also indigestion. But the main reason behind it is related to the heart.
A research study suggests that the baby inside the mother’s womb can suppress the abdominal aorta.
This will lead to stimulation of the vagal nerve, which will affect the mother’s heart. While sleeping on the left side this can be avoided.
So, if you are pregnant then you should sleep on your left side. Especially if you are in the 3rd trimester or in late pregnancy.
Get enough pillows to support your body. This will help you sleep comfortably.
Let us take a look at the downsides of the side sleeping position.
While you sleep on your side one side of your face will be at constant friction against your pillow. This will give rise to unwanted sleep lines.
This will in long run will lead to facial wrinkling.
If you are a woman then a side sleeping position can also contribute to breast sagging. This is because your breast ligaments will stretch and cause this sagging.
Try wearing a soft bra while sleeping, this will help.
Almost all side sleepers complain of numbness in the arm. This numbness is generally felt on the dependent arm.
This numbness increases more when you squish one arm beneath your head. This is mentioned as a rubber arm.
To get the relief you should try changing your side sleeping from right to left or vice versa. Also, avoid keeping your arm beneath your head. If you are doing it for support.
Then what you need is a pillow to support your head.
This position will also affect your shoulder and neck. Unnecessary extension and constriction will put strain and cause shoulder pain and neck pain.
So try to avoid putting your arm beneath your head.
There are many variations of side sleeping.
Fetal position is one of them. This is one of the worst positions to sleep in. The fetal position will not maintain your spinal alignment.
Moreover, it will also put unwanted pressure on your internal organs. This position will take away all the positives if side sleeping and keep only the negatives.
So, in case you like to sleep in the fetus position, then please change it.
Now, let us see how you can make your side sleeping more comfortable.
Best Pillow for Side Sleeping Position.
You will need multiple pillows. This will make your sleep more comfortable.
Choose a thicker and medium-firm pillow. Thickness(loft) or height will vary from person to person. If your shoulder height is more you will need a thicker pillow.
Your pillow should support the natural curvature of your neck and your head should properly rest on the pillow.
The angle between your head and shoulder should not be too stiff or too low. For this, you will need a medium-firm pillow.
The pillow will decide your entire spinal alignment. A good practice is to check your ear, shoulder and hip should be aligned.
This pillow is kept between your knees. This helps to support your hip joint and make your sleep comfortable and painless.
You can use a bolster, knee pillows, or any different kind of pillows for this purpose.
Which Side should you prefer for Sleeping?
We are all human beings, so you can have your preferences. In any case, most of the Side Sleepers change their sleeping position from one side to another.
But if you are facing some problems or under certain circumstances you should try to stick to one side. This will mainly depend on your health condition.
Right Side Sleeping Position.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a Cardio-vascular disease or if you have heart disease like
- Heart Failure.
- Coronary artery disease.
- Sleep Apnoea (because it is closely associated with heart failure)
Left Side Sleeping Position.
- Pregnant Women.
- Acid reflux at Night.
- For Better Digestion.
Apart from these conditions especially related to the heart, you can definitely choose your own comfortable side.
Let us know in the comment section which side is your favorite Side Sleeping Position or position. and Why?
Sleeping on your Stomach.
Do you like sleeping on your stomach?
If stomach sleeping is one of your favorite sleeping positions, then you might not like this. Most sleep professionals don’t recommend sleeping on the stomach.
Sleeping on the stomach will cause strain on your lower back and neck. This leads to neck pain, shoulder ache, and back pain.
Furthermore, if you sleep on your stomach then you might change positions very frequently.
This will result in frequent tossing and turning while you sleep and will make you restless.
This can make it hard for you to fall asleep quickly.
Stomach sleeping position does not have many benefits but there are some.
Let us take a close look at them.
If you snore, then stomach sleeping can help you.
Many people who snore get relief by sleeping on their stomachs. But there are also those people whose snoring did not decrease due to this position.
Snoring is also closely related to overweight and obesity. Overweight people if they have a big tummy, then they might not be comfortable sleeping on stomach.
There are many downsides to sleeping on the stomach. Apparently snoring relief is the only positive. But let us look at the downsides.
This position will flatten your natural curves which will lead to lower back pain. To get the relief you can put a pillow below your pelvis and lower abdomen region. But better to change the sleeping position.
Neck pain, Shoulder pain, and Headache.
Your head will be tilting at an awkward angle while you sleep on your stomach. While changing your position at night a sudden twitch can lead to neck pain.
Moreover, your shoulders will also be stretched and stressed.
This will lead to shoulder pain. A headache is also associated with neck pain and shoulder pain.
So if you are experiencing pain in the shoulder and neck, then avoid the stomach sleeping position.
Stomach sleeping position will put too much pressure on your chest. Your rib cage, sternum will be compressed by your body weight. This will hamper your natural breathing.
Problems with Digestion.
Stomach sleeping will be a problem for your digestion. This position will put pressure on your stomach and intestines and hamper digestion.
This will be more applicable for those who have a large belly.
Allergies can Aggravate.
If you suffer from an allergy, stomach sleeping will not be beneficial. This position will directly enter your nose and mouth. This will aggravate the condition.
Get dust mite-free and allergy-free, pillow covers, and bed sheets for better prevention.
Just like side sleeping, stomach sleeping will also increase facial wrinkles. You will get unwanted sleep lines by constant friction. This will increase the chances of facial wrinkles.
There are many people who don’t like to sleep on their stomachs.
Honestly, I also don’t like it much. I was a stomach sleeper once. But woke up one night with a stiff neck. Since then I avoid sleeping on my stomach.
But you might like sleeping on your stomach. It is Ok.
You might not be troubled by these problems and you are comfortable in this position. But in case you start facing any of the above-mentioned problems I suggest try avoiding this position.
- If you want to change your sleeping position from the stomach to side sleeping, then you will need some help and a guide. If you are interested you can read our article on “How to sleep on your Side.”
Till then let us see how you can make stomach sleeping more comfortable.
You can do it by choosing the right pillow
Best pillow for stomach sleepers.
You will need more than one pillow for a comfortable sleep.
Your aim should be to use the thinnest pillow possible to support your head. If you don’t use a pillow, then it can be even better.
A slim pillow or no pillow will help you change your position frequently. So choose your pillow carefully.
- Sometimes too much toss and turn can delay your sleep onset. If you face the same problem then you can read our article on “How to Fall Asleep Faster.”
Other pillows you will need to support your joints like the Hip joint and both shoulders.
Best Sleeping Positions for Health.
So far we have seen how each of the positions affects your body. Each position has its benefits and some demerits. Based on these insights I suggest.
- The Best Sleeping Positions for your Health is Sleeping on your back with arms on your side or chest.
- For your Heart Health and Sleep Apnoea, the Best Sleeping Position is Sleeping on your Right Side.
- The Best Sleeping Position for a Pregnant Lady is to sleep on her Left Side.
- The Best Sleeping Positions for sleeping with Acid Reflux, better Digestion is Left Side Sleeping Position
Worst Sleeping Positions for your Health.
As we have seen there are only two sleeping positions that are not healthy.
This can be comfortable to some but in the long run, this will cause those health issues. It is better to change these sleeping positions.
- Sleeping on your stomach
- The Fetal position.
In our day to day life, we spent almost one-third of our time sleeping. Quality sleeping gives us relaxation to our mind and also rejuvenates our body. While we sleep we should take care of the position of our body. These sleeping positions affect our health in many ways.
The intention of this article was to make you aware how these sleeping positions can affect your health. You might not be facing any problem today. But then these problems do not occur overnight. They take time and sometimes it’s our bad habits which gives rise to some of our health problems.
Well, I am sure you are one of those people who values comfort and health equally. Let us know in the comment section what do you think about this article. Also, tell us which is your favorite sleeping position.
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