Sleeping is an absolute must for good health, since that’s your body’s one chance to rest and rejuvenate each day. According to Psychology Today, getting proper sleep can even help you ward off the cognitive drop-off that is associated with aging and keep your memory in better shape.
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Generally speaking, as an adult, you need at least seven hours of sleep each night, per the Sleep Foundation. But it’s not just about counting hours, because you also need your sleeping time to be as restful as possible so you reap the full benefits, and part of that will come from what position you sleep in.
Check out the following six tips to find the best sleeping positions for you.
Know the types
There are three major sleeping positions: back, side and stomach. But there are also specific variations of each, including these positions:
- Fetus—In this position, you’re curled up on your side, like a baby in the womb. According to BetterSleep, women are twice as likely as men to sleep in this position.
- Log—If you’re a log sleeper, you’re on your side with both arms down.
- Yearner—Like log and fetal sleepers, yearners are on their sides. The difference is their arms, which lay in front of the body and outward.
- Soldier—Soldier sleepers are flat on their backs, with the arms down and close to their bodies.
- Freefall—In the freefall position, you’re on your stomach with your arms wrapped around the pillow or under your head.
- Starfish—Similar in base position to the solider, starfish sleepers are on their backs but with arms up and near their heads or pillows.
Once you’ve investigated the different types of positions, you can determine which one you’re using and whether you need to try something else based on the pros and cons of each.
Look At The Benefits Of Each Position
Each position has its own set of benefits. Sleeping on your back, for example, is often recommended by doctors because this position will keep your back straight. With a straight back, you’re putting less pressure and strain on your neck and spine, and this can result in mornings and days free of nagging back and neck pain.
Sleeping on your side also comes with its own perks. If you’re lying on your left side, for example, you can help lessen acid reflux, as reported by the New York Times.
For stomach sleepers the benefits, besides comfort, are less clear. It may reduce your sleep apnea and snoring if you suffer from either of these problems.
Evaluate All The Cons
As with advantages, each sleeping position carries its own drawbacks. Back sleeping can increase sleep apnea and snoring, and it can actually cause lower back pain if you’re not in an appropriate position.
When you sleep on your side, you’re putting pressure on both your lungs and your stomach. It can also cause limbs to “fall asleep” because blood flow may be cut off if you twist the wrong way during the night.
Sleeping on your stomach is actually considered the worst way, per Medical Daily. When you sleep on your stomach, your spine is forced to flatten instead of keeping to its natural curve, and this can cause back pain. If you’re also turning your head, you could be signing yourself up for neck pain, too.
Don’t De Afraid To Experiment
If you think your current position is hitting you with more minuses than pluses based on your position investigation, go ahead and switch it up. Keep track of the different positions you’re trying and what type of sleep you got each night in a sleep journal.
By noting how you feel when you wake up after trying a new position, you’ll get a better idea of how you should sleep. It may take more than one night of new sleeping positions to find the best one for you, but it’s certainly worth it!
Inspect Your Mattress
Even if you’re sleeping in the ideal position for your body, you may be getting the short end of the sleep stick because of your mattress. A mattress that is overdue for replacement is no longer supportive, and you can end up in poor sleeping positions throughout the night because of sagging and its uneven surface.
According to Consumer Reports, there are no set mattress lifespans, so you’ll need to judge the current state of yours. Signs you may need a new one include waking up achy and tired, sleeping better when you’re away from home and lumps or sagging spots in your mattress.
If you’re over the age of 40, you may want to consider replacing your mattress every five to seven years because your body will struggle to handle pressure as you age.
Make sure you keep up a mattress maintenance schedule to help extend the life of your mattresses as long as possible. Rotate your mattress every two weeks for the first three months you have it, and then do it every two months until it’s time for a new one.
If you only sleep on one side of the mattress, rotate it 180 degrees. With a double-sided mattress, you can rotate it 180 degrees and flip it over. Don’t let anyone jump on it, as that will wear a mattress out more quickly than normal use.
Try Some Simple Sleeping Tips
If you’re still having a hard time getting good sleep despite finding your ideal position, try these easy, simple tips:
- Save your bed for sleep: Don’t study or work in your bed. If you start to connect it with your stress levels, you’ll impact how well you sleep in it.
- Kill electronics around 30 minutes before bedtime: Using devices that light up, such as your tablet or cell phone, can spark sleeping difficulty.
- Keep your sleep schedule the same: Going to sleep at 10 pm during the week but staying up until 1 am on the weekends can disrupt your body, mind and your sleeping patterns. Try to go to bed and get up at consistent times.
- Exercise more regularly: Exercise can help tire you out and relieve stress and anxiety, which translates into better shut-eye.
- Make your bedtime environment sleep-friendly: Make sure your bedroom area is primed for sleeping. Keep it dark and change anything that is affecting how long you stay asleep. If you notice you wake up during the night because you’re cold, for example, begin sleeping with another blanket, or bump up your thermostat at night.
- Speak to your doctor: Get checked for sleep apnea if you have a history of sleeping difficulties and/or snoring. Your doctor can send you for a sleep study, which is used to identify apnea and other sleeping disorders. Having untreated apnea can do more than just disrupt your sleep, as the condition has been linked to high blood pressure and obesity.