The Best Positions to Sleep When You Are Sick

Do you manage to get enough sleep in times of sickness? Have you thought about changing your sleeping position?

You will be surprised to learn that your sleeping position can impact how fast you can heal from a sickness or ailment. Certain sleeping positions can help your body relax, recover, and revive while you are asleep so that you wake up feeling good as new. 

For each ailment, there is a specific way to sleep. So, before looking for the best way to sleep when sick, be sure about the type of illness you are suffering from and also find out what caused it.

There is even a study that proved that sleeping in an awkward/uncomfortable position can not only harm the quality of sleep but can also prolong the healing process. 

In this study, researchers at The Institute for Postgraduate Dental Education, Sweden, surveyed 100 patients suffering from bone disorders and compared their responses with the other 100 healthy people (the control group). 

They concluded that patients with bone disorders “felt insufficiently rested at awakening and/or felt tired or sleepy in the daytime.” This was a result of sleeping in an incorrect or unnatural position. 

Patients with bone problems had changed their sleeping positions due to pain in their body parts like neck, jaw, shoulder, hip, or ribs. The ones in this control group slept on their backs and did not experience sleep deprivation throughout this survey.

The best position to sleep with a cold

The biggest challenge people face when trying to fall asleep with a cold is the post nasal drip seeping back in the throat and aggravating the whole situation. To avoid swallowing phlegm or mucus, try sleeping in a semi fetal position. 

In the picture below, you can see how the person is sleeping on one side with their knees curled toward their chest.

Best Positions to Sleep
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Also, before going to bed, make sure you take the right cold mediation and even blow the nose repeatedly. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to blow your nose. Sometimes, it can also prevent you from falling asleep. If your cold is persistent — you fall sick every now and then — you might also benefit from having a “steam inhaler” machine in your home.

The best position to sleep with the anterior placenta (during pregnancy)

Pregnancy is not a sickness, but having a baby growing in the uterus can make it difficult to sleep at night. Some women have to deal with an uneasy condition known as “anterior placenta.” The anterior placenta makes your baby vulnerable to all sorts of injuries. Hence, it would help if you were careful while sleeping with this condition.

If you are wondering what a placenta is, and why being in the anterior position creates a problem, then here is your answer. The placenta is an organ that provides nutrition and support to your baby while it is in its early stages. 

Ordinarily, it is situated on the backside of the uterus, but on some occasions, it may shift to the front, right, left, or bottom. When the placenta is situated on the front side of the tummy, it is known as the anterior placenta. 

The anterior placenta is quite common in pregnant women. The left-sided log is the safest position to sleep with an anterior placenta. As you can see from the picture below, the person is sleeping on their left side with arms and legs extended straight. Moreover, 15% of the people sleep in a log position anyway. So, if you are one of them then luckily you don’t have to make changes.

Best Positions to Sleep
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The best position to sleep when your stomach hurts

Stomach aches are mainly caused due to digestive problems like heartburn, gastritis, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and many more. Along with feeling bloated and cramps, stomach ache is also one of the most common symptoms of digestive disorders.

So, when your stomach hurts, it is best to lie on the left side of your body. Or you can also rest on your back. Both work fine. Your internal organs, like the stomach, pancreas, and heart, are situated on the left side.

So, by sleeping in a left-sided semi fetal position, you can let those organs rest easy without having to worry about gravity. Moreover, some people also benefit from sleeping on their backs. The choice is yours.

Best Positions to Sleep when you are sick
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The best position to sleep when nauseous

We understand how difficult the situation must be when you feel like vomiting all the time. Most often, people with nausea suffer from dry heaving and stomach cramps. Some people also exert additional symptoms like throat burning, feeling light-headed, and fever. 

To deal with nausea, it is advised to sleep in a fetal position–with your knees curled tightly towards your chest. Furthermore, vomiting is the most prominent symptom of nausea. Don’t ever rest on your back; you do not want to choke on your vomit in your sleep.

Best Positions to Sleep when you are sick

The best position to sleep with asthma

Asthma is a condition when a person’s airways swell up as a result of the production of extra mucus in them. The extra layer of mucus blocks the airways, and the person frequently feels short of breath. 

Sometimes, mainly while sleeping, the airways can get completely clogged, prohibiting the person from breathing at all–also known as an asthma attack. Hence, it is imperative to sleep in a position that will keep the airways free and unclogged.

Five years ago, a freak incident in Tanzania revealed the best sleeping position for a patient with bronchial asthma. In the middle of the night, a middle-aged asthma patient had to rush to the hospital. He had suffered a sudden asthma attack.

This man suffered from breathing problems right from birth. While he was admitted to the hospital, the doctor ordered him to lay in a supine sleep position (lying horizontally with the face and torso facing up). He slept in this position for 2-3 nights and then was discharged immediately and never had any breathing problems in the future. Hence, for the last few years, asthma patients are advised to sleep in a supine position.

The best position to sleep with a fractured rib

A rib fracture is prevalent in contact sports like American football, rugby, and soccer. Players dashing into each other at high speed can not only fracture the ribs but can also tear them apart entirely. Road accidents are also one of the leading causes of rib fracture. 

With a rib fracture, it can be impossible to sleep in your regular sleeping position as ribs are located in the lateral portion of your body. Someone with a rib fracture can benefit by sleeping on an (at 45-60°), or an adjustable bed with their feet elevated above the surface of the bed.

Sleeping on your back will help ease the excruciating pain arising due to a fractured rib. There are plenty of adjustable beds available in the market. You can also try tucking two pillows beside your rib area to avoid any sideways movement during the night.

The best position to sleep with a headache

Headaches can be defined as a painful sensation in any part of the head ranging from dull to intense. Dull headaches are caused due to minor issues like sleep deprivation, hunger, fatigue, personal trauma, an incorrect eyeglass prescription, etc. You can always deal with these minor issues by making some lifestyle changes. 

However, you cannot take intense headaches like migraine lightly. Migraine headaches cause throbbing in one particular area of the head and also make you feel nauseous. And you may not believe it, but changing your sleeping position can prevent them in a day or two. 

Do you sleep with two or more pillows beneath your head? Or do you prefer to sleep on a flat surface (without cushioning)? The way you use your pillows can impact the quality of your sleep. We would recommend you to sleep in a Semi-Fowler’s Position (aka inclined medical position). No need for pillows.

To further elaborate, sleep on a recliner with your legs straight and the upper body elevated at a 30°-45°. If you have an adjustable bed, for added comfort, you can try raising the foot of the bed.

Above, we have mentioned the sleeping position for seven types of sickness. Most of them are backed by research, and other positions are tried and tested by experts all around the globe. 

We hope you found the best sleeping position for the ailment you are suffering from. Except for rib fracture and headache, you won’t need to invest in a recliner or an adjustable bed. 

Furthermore, for a healthy person, there are no particular positions they need to sleep in, although, for someone with ailments like back problems or asthma, it is imperative to sleep in the recommended position.

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