Do you seek the Best Sleeping Positions for yourself? Well, before we get there, take a look at these three scenarios that a person is confronted with upon waking up:
The first is when your alarm goes off, and you decide to get “5 more minutes of sleep," only to end up missing work that day because you overslept.
In the second scenario, you start your day feeling fresh, fueled by that initial rush of motivation that fades rather quickly, and then casually go on with the rest of your day.
The third, and most annoying experience, is the return of that damned ache in your body, accompanying the grogginess of a bad night’s sleep and the dread of having to get out of bed.
While the first scenario is an incurable condition that puzzles top minds to this day, and the second one is reserved for the lucky few, what if we told you that the third situation is relatively simple to cure? That you too could become part of the lucky few?
“How?" you might ask. “Change your sleeping position," we say.
But how could something so simple as a sleeping position ease your suffering? And if it truly does get you a good night’s sleep, then how can you go about it in the best possible way? Here is the answer to all of these questions and more.
How does posture affect sleep?
Sleep takes up quite a lot of our waking time. While asleep, our body takes the opportunity to diagnose and heal itself. It's no surprise, then, that sleeping position is crucial in this situation.
Sleeping in a suitable position relieves the pressure built up in your body and enhances the body's ability to repair itself. The opposite would worsen the pain, resulting in a string of unpleasant morning awakenings.
The same holds true for standing, walking, and sitting. When it comes to any action, it is common for individuals to choose a posture that feels most comfortable and to avoid those that cause pain. Sleeping is an action, too—an inactive action, but an action nonetheless. Thus, as every other action indicates, a suitable posture is an inevitable necessity.
A comforting posture varies from individual to individual. It could be based solely on comfort, or it could also factor in discomfort. What is considered the perfect posture for a pregnant woman might not be the best for someone with nasal congestion.
Sleeping on your side, sleeping on your back, and sleeping on your stomach are the three most common sleeping positions. See what they’re all about below.
Why is sleeping on your side the most recommended sleeping position?
The majority of people worldwide prefer to sleep in this position. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that the best sleep position is on your side.
It cannot be disputed, then, that this is also the most comfortable posture for many. In addition to comfort, many other health benefits of sleeping on your side have also been established.
It promotes proper digestion, helps with waste removal, and lowers the risk of intestinal disorders. People with constipation, bloating, or other gastrointestinal issues will find this position a very fitting counter to their problems.
There is negligible back pain due to the natural spinal alignment. Chronic back pain carriers may find side-sleeping beneficial over lying on their back or belly.
- It is a good option for people with acid reflux and sleep apnea because it reduces snoring and heartburn (prefer the left side for this).
- When interstitial waste is removed from the brain, it enhances brain health and lowers the risk of neurological disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
- Pregnant women will find this the safest position to sleep in for themselves and the baby. It relieves them from the pressure of the growing belly and enables the heart to pump blood throughout the body. (Sleeping on the left side is recommended in this case)
While picking a mattress, ensure it isn’t too soft or too firm. Your spine will realign if you sink in or stay stiff while side sleeping for an extended period, causing discomfort and pain when you wake up. The popular choice here is medium-firm mattresses. They balance the body well and also provide adequate comfort.
Choose pillows that adjust well to your collarbone structure, and make sure they’re firm enough to avoid a collapse (Latex pillows offer this better than feather pillows). Additionally, placing a pillow between your knees will be beneficial because it will help to align your hips and reduce lower back pain.
Finally, avoid sleeping on your side asymmetrically. Instead, lie down on your side and keep your arms parallel. Once that has been achieved, make sure your neck and chin are aligned in the center of your shoulders, and your hips and shoulders should be aligned as well.
- The fetal position, which is excellent for relieving back pressure, can also be used in place of the symmetrical one.
Left side or right side?
The left is generally preferred to the right. It prevents heartburn, but more importantly, it stimulates bowel movement due to the influence of gravity. Our internal organs, being asymmetrical, allow gravity to carry waste from the ascending colon to the descending colon rather quickly and easily.
If you have irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, lazy bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or any other digestive disorder, you should prefer to sleep on your left side.
If any discomfort prevents you from remaining on your left, try alternating between your left and right sides.
Like everything else, side-sleeping has its disadvantages too.
It is common for you to experience shoulder pain from sleeping on your side, which forces you to adjust your posture. Unfortunately, this position also becomes useless for those who already experience chronic shoulder pain.
Discomfort with the jaw is another flaw. Sleeping with one side of your jaw pressed against the pillow puts pressure on it, leading to soreness in the morning. Additionally, facial wrinkles develop more quickly due to the skin being stretched and compressed.
Is sleeping on your back a good alternative to side-sleeping?
When you can’t depend on your sides, your back has always got your back! This is the second-most widespread sleeping position around the globe. Despite not offering as much comfort as the previous one, it does make up for it with its own set of advantages.
- Similar to when sleeping on your side, the matter of spine alignment remains constant. This will be a relief for those who relish this aspect yet cannot afford the luxury of side-sleeping. People with lumbar spinal pain will benefit from adopting this posture.
- You may experience less discomfort if you sleep on your back, as it lessens the compression and pain associated with old injuries and other chronic conditions.
- It helps you avoid any aches in the morning due to the proper distribution of your body weight.
The prevention of misalignment in your body while sleeping on your back significantly reduces neck pain. Likewise, hip pain, knee pain, arthritis, allergies, and stuffy noses are also reduced to their minimal levels.
Regarding allergies and stuffy noses, prop yourself up with pillows so that you're somewhat upright. Your nasal congestion is reduced, and your airways are kept open as a result.
The disadvantages of the side-sleeping posture become advantages here. Pressure is relieved from the jaw and the shoulder, resulting in no pain from that side of the body. And, of course, the wrinkles! Your face can age gracefully as you needn’t even worry about wrinkles here.
Put a pillow beneath your knees. Your knees should be comfortably bent and relaxed. After this, make sure that your neck and spine are at a comfortable, natural angle and are aligned with each other.
Spread your legs out and extend your arms while you sleep. Your weight will be distributed evenly, and your joints won't be under stress.
You could benefit from sleeping with a pillow under your lower back. However, to determine which pillow suits you best, you might have to experiment with a few different options.
Consider placing pillows on either side of you. You won't roll over in the middle of the night with the aid of these pillows. Also, when it comes to your head, select a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck and keeps your spine straight.
Finally, use a wedge pillow or bed risers to raise the head of your bed 6 inches if you suffer from heartburn and are unable to sleep on your side. Elevation can also aid in preventing sinus buildup in cases of nasal congestion.
Inevitably, there is a small percentage of people who should try and actively avoid sleeping on their backs.
Topping this list is pregnant women. Sleeping on your back while pregnant can decrease blood flow to the fetus and increase your risk of having an underweight baby.
Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea and chronic snoring are next on the list. People with sleep apnea should avoid lying on their backs because it puts their airways at risk of collapsing. And for chronic snorers, the snoring tends to worsen.
Acid reflux and heartburn sufferers should avoid sleeping on their backs. A study conducted on spontaneous sleep positions with patients who had gastroesophageal reflux (GER) revealed that sleeping on your back is responsible for an increase in the condition.
The bulky and elderly appear at the end of this list. Pressure from gravity on the body makes lying on our backs more difficult as we age or gain weight. For such people, switching to a side-sleeping position may be preferable.
Why is sleeping on your stomach deemed harmful?
The posture that is least used and minimally respected around the world is sleeping on your stomach. Though it has benefits, they are specific and limited. It is advised against making this position a habit because of the harm it can do to you in the long run.
Only two benefits have come from this posture. One is the lessening of snoring due to your airway remaining more open, and the other is the comfort it provides to some people. Therefore, it can be put to use by people who snore, have sleep apnea, or have a general discomfort with the former two positions.
Try using just one thin pillow or none at all. This will help you avoid discomfort and spinal misalignment. Put a small pillow beneath your hips to further align your spine and relieve pressure.
Problems with spinal alignment that can arise from sleeping on your stomach can also be mitigated by a firm mattress. You are less likely to stretch your spine out of alignment when your mattress is firm.
- Do not raise or bend your legs as this could end up causing back pain.
Avoid placing your arms beneath your head or pillow. Stretch them out instead. This will prevent any pain or numbness from developing overnight.
- Remember the first benefit mentioned above? Regarding the open airway and less snoring? Well, you'll be upset to learn that your ribs must fight gravity to breathe in this position. As a result, you might have to expend more energy, which would make for less restful sleep.
Pregnant women should not adopt this posture. It will be extremely harmful to both the mother and the developing child as pressure is being put on the belly.
- As your head must face one side while you sleep on your stomach, your neck and head will inevitably twist out of alignment with the rest of your spine. Furthermore, sleeping on your stomach offers little support for the back, putting even more strain on the spine.
Our old friend, Wrinkles, makes a comeback here. Any posture that requires you to rest on the pillow with your face will always accompany facial aging.
What else besides sleeping position?
Sleeping positions aren’t all that there is. For a morning filled with glee, take a few of these steps besides your sleep posture:
Maintain a rigorous sleep schedule. Aim for an average of 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Maintain this throughout the week, even through weekends. That'll help your body adjust well to the sleep-wake cycle.
Set a limit on how much you sleep during the day. Daytime naps could interfere with your nighttime rest. It'll eventually cause a ruckus in your sleep schedule and leave you yearning for sleep when you can't afford it.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been effective in providing rest during the night. Do it in the evenings or in the mornings. Avoid it close to bedtime.
Make your room cozy. Rid it of unwanted distractions that sway you from sleep.
Eat healthily, and avoid having meals two to three hours before bed. Healthy food and healthy eating will go well with your exercise and keep you in shape, avoiding the detriments that come along with obesity and the like.
Do latex mattresses assist with sleep positions?
Latex mattresses are excellent for helping with your sleeping position. While providing cushioned support and having the same body-cradling qualities as memory foam, natural latex offers these qualities without harmful chemicals.
The medium firmness of latex mattresses enables the user to sleep in any position. It is just right—not too soft, not too hard. Studies have also suggested that sleeping on a mattress with a medium firmness can help to relieve body aches.
The mattress's firmness effectively provides better lumbar support. Pressure points in your body are more evenly distributed, thanks to this, resulting in the lessening of the pain brought on by sore pressure points.
- Aches and pains can be exacerbated by tossing and turning. Due to latex's ability to reduce surface pressure, you'll turn and toss a lot less and enjoy better sleep.
Combine the aforementioned factors with the resilience of a latex mattress, and you essentially have a tool in your hands that can last for many years and effectively treat your spinal problems.
Do not hesitate to purchase the mattress that best serves your needs. We suggest latex mattresses because of their versatility and ability to aid in certain aspects of discomfort, illnesses, and sleep disorders.
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Quality sleep comes from quality sleep posture. With the best sleeping position, you can experience an uninterrupted night of rest and wake up feeling rejuvenated and pain-free. The posture you choose should embody your comfort and dispel your discomfort.
Experimenting with new positions is the best way to figure out what suits you. If your favorite sleeping position becomes strenuous, then do not hesitate to switch and alternate with the others for a good night's sleep.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead! Embrace the world of sleeping positions, and keep us posted on your progress! We’ll always be here to take your queries and suggestions through the comments below.
Disclaimer: What is said in this article has been referenced from multiple sources and is intended only for educational and informational purposes. Please note that no content in this article is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. Always consult an experienced doctor with any concerns you may have regarding a health condition or treatment, and never disregard any medical suggestions or delay in seeking treatment because of something you read here.