What is your preferred sleeping position? Whether you’re getting enough ZZZs or not, you have a signature way of hitting the sack. You may like lying on your back. Some people automatically curl into the fetal position. Others snooze with limbs spread like a starfish.
But while this part of your sleep routine is intuitive, knowing the best sleeping positions for which you can improve your sleep quality. This is because your favourite freefall position may actually be bad for your neck and lower back.
As the case differs from person to person, the best sleeping positions are deemed best or worst according to the physical and health conditions of sleepers.
Browse the different sections of this guide to find the information you need. Check out the following table of contents:
Table of Contents
- 6 Sleeping Positions
- Best Sleeping Positions for Pregnant Women
- Best Sleeping Positions for People with Body Pain
- Best Sleeping Positions for People with Other Health Conditions
- Tips On How to Change Into the Position That Suits You
6 Sleeping Positions
This is the most common sleeping position for 4 out of 10 Americans. More women than men also prefer it. Curling up feels more natural to your spine, as this is its natural alignment. If you’re a fan of the fetal position, you’ll be glad to know it can reduce snoring.
Just make sure you loosen up a bit. A tight fetal position can restrict your lungs and diaphragm, which can affect your breathing.
Another side position that benefits the body is the log position. And it turns out, sleeping with your back straight and both arms down is the healthiest among the six positions. Not only can you lessen episodes of sleep apnea, but you can also avoid neck and back pain when you, literally, sleep like a log.
Placing your hands in front of your body while lying on your side is known as the yearner position. Thirteen percent of Americans, mostly Baby Boomers, are keen to snooze this way. Younger generations may actually want to switch because the yearner pose promotes better brain health and blood flow. Those suffering from acid reflux would be happy to hear applying this on your left side helps prevent heartburns.
While plopping down your bed stomach first seems cozy, it actually becomes bothersome as your sleep progresses. Called the freefall position, this practice involves placing your hands around the pillow or beside your head. About 17% of Americans love it despite the neck and back pain it might cause.
Even if you’re not a soldier, you are like 11% of the population surveyed if you lie flat on your back with your arms kept close beside you. This position can cause snoring, which may be hard to stop since you’re not likely to switch spots while in bed. Good news to people with acid reflux: this is a recommended pose for you. However, it can also trigger sleep apnea and leave you with a sore lower back.
Take the soldier position, but have your arms angled upward beside your head and your legs spread wide. There’s not much difference here from other lie-on-your-back poses in terms of benefits. It’s also likely to worsen sleep apnea and induce back pains. Still, 7% of Americans are inclined to sleep the starfish way.
Best Sleeping Positions for Pregnant Women
Side positions suit pregnant ladies. Among the options, the fetal position seems the best choice. Remember to stretch a little, so your knees are not bent too high. Place a small pillow between your knees to feel more comfortable. You can also cushion your belly and chest with additional pillows as the bun in your oven grows bigger.
- Blood circulation in your baby is improved
- The liver is at ease as the uterus stops pressing against it
Best Sleeping Positions for People with Body Pain
Side sleepers who are experiencing back problems should not change their preferred position. However, there are some minor adjustments that can be done to enhance your sleep. For example, a full-length body pillow between the knees will keep your hips, pelvis, and spine aligned.
If you’re dealing with sciatica, lying on your side as described above will help you square your hips. You can also elevate your knees using a thin pillow or a rolled-up towel if you like to lie on your back.
When the problem is herniated discs or degenerative disc disease, it’s best to stick with the fetal position. Add support to your hips using a pillow or a rolled-up towel. Doing this will open up the discs, taking the pressure off the nerves in your L4 and L5 vertebrae.
In some cases, neck pain already exists and is aggravated by your sleeping position. In order to prevent it altogether, make sure to lie on your back or side. If you doze off on your back, you should rest your head on a flat pillow and your neck on a round pillow. If you can find one, get pillows that are already designed to follow the shape of the neck. Those who favor a side position should pick a pillow that keeps their neck straight.
Best Sleeping Positions for People with Other Health Conditions
To allow air to flow without obstruction through passageways in your body, maintain a side sleeping position. Check that your pillow supports your neck to avoid straining it along the way. You may also consider lying on your stomach. However, this may be bad news for your neck.
Lying on your back with your head and neck elevated will help keep mucus from accumulating further in your head and lungs. If the head side of your bed can also be raised using thick books, do so. You’ll feel relief if your body is on a semi-reclined angle.
As mentioned earlier, sleeping on your left side is perfect for people with acid reflux. This position lessens your risk for heartburn. In this case, your oesophagal sphincter is closed, preventing stomach acids from passing through it toward your upper oesophagus and throat.
Lying on your back is also a good alternative. But it’s not recommended if you also have sleep apnea.
Aside from keeping the stomach juices where they should be while you sleep, laying on your left side also aids digestion. So if you have been having no luck in the bathroom, try sleeping on your left side tonight. Again, a back position would also help. But neither soldier nor starfish will provide optimal comfort during your slumber.
Tips On How to Change Into the Position That Suits You
1. Take it easy.
After reading this guide, you probably want to jump right into a new, better sleeping position. That’s actually great! But don’t be hard on yourself if ever you fall back into your old, preferred position. Like any attempt to develop a new habit, the switch will take time. Give your brain and body a chance to build muscle memory. You’ll be surprised one day (or evening) to find yourself effortlessly lying in bed in the right position.
2. Invest in the right mattress.
As a back sleeper, you need to look for a quality mattress that will support your back. There isn’t one type of mattress for every kind of health condition. But there are some metrics you can use. For instance, you can go for a softer surface if you have wide hips. Those with narrower hips can opt for a firmer surface.
3. Keep testing positions and sleep paraphernalia for maximum comfort.
These days, there are many specialized products out there to choose from. Do your research before buying a mattress and pillows. At the same time, you can try sleeping on other beds, such as at the one at your friend’s or in a hotel, to see which kind of mattress suits you.
And of course, if you have two sleeping positions to choose from, you are free to test them both. Take note of the one that made you feel most comfortable, relaxed, and well-rested. Sometimes, a little application of the scientific approach can make a big difference.