From getting too little or indulging in too much, sleep can play a significant role in our health and how we feel. However, there is more to sleep than the amount of hours we spend doing it. Your sleeping posture can also have a huge impact on your overall health and well-being. Some positions are better for getting restful sleep, and a few should be avoided if you want to feel your best.
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The Three Different Positions
Sleeping positions can generally be divided into three categories, namely the back positions, side positions and stomach positions. Each of these also has a few variations.
1. Back Positions
Sleeping on your back is the position recommended by most doctors as the healthiest option. Sleeping on your back also has the advantage of being better for your face and leads to fewer wrinkles compared to the other positions. For any of the back positions, it is best to use a single puffy pillow for supporting the head and neck. Don’t use too many pillows to prop yourself up with, as this can make it harder to breathe. For added support, you can also place a pillow beneath the arch of your spine.
The Soldier Position
Description: People who sleep in the soldier position remain flat on their back and keep their arms down. Their arms are also kept close to the body, just like a soldier that is standing on guard.
Pros: Like all of the back positions, sleeping in the soldier position is one of the healthiest positions as your body isn’t contorted into any unusual shapes or curves. This means that your spine, neck, and head remain aligned while sleeping, which means fewer aches and pains in the long run. Sleeping in this position with your head on a pillow can also provide relief to those who suffer from acid reflux.
Cons: For all its pros, sleeping in the soldier position is, unfortunately, not without its cons either. One of the biggest issues, especially for those sleeping next to a partner is the fact that it can exacerbate snoring. This is due to blocked airways, caused by gravity forcing the base of the tongue over the airway, making the snoring worse for those who are already prone to snoring.
Sleeping in the soldier position also doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get an entire night of uninterrupted sleep, as it can trigger sleep apnea in some people. This is a condition where breathing becomes intermittent, causing you to wake up.
The Starfish Position
Description: People who sleep in the starfish position still remain flat on their back, like in the soldier position, but with their arms rested upwards.
Pros: The starfish position features all the benefits of the soldier position, such as allowing your mattress to properly support your spine and preventing wrinkles as well as breakouts.
Cons: Once again, like the soldier position, the starfish position can result in problems with acid reflux as well as snoring. Because the arms are rested upwards, it can also cause unnecessary pressure on the shoulders, which could lead to discomfort or even pain.
2. Side Positions
Most people prefer sleeping on their sides, but which side you choose actually matters. Sleeping on the left side is the position recommended by doctors during pregnancy due to the improved circulation to the heart, which is something that benefits both mother and baby.
It does have some benefits for those who are not pregnant too, as sleeping on your left side is better for easing acid reflux and heartburn. However, sleeping on the left side can put a lot of pressure on the lungs and stomach, so it is better to alternate sides if possible to prevent strain.
The Fetal Position
Description: Mimicking the position of a baby in the womb, those who prefer the fetal position tend to curl up into a ball by pulling their knees towards their chest and tilting their chin down.
Pros: Since the fetal position is a side position it means you won’t snore, and it is also a very comfortable position, especially for pregnant women.
Cons: Because of the way in which the spine is curved when sleeping in the fetal position, it places a strain on the back and neck. This position can also result in joint pain, and because of the position of the face, there is a risk of premature wrinkles. The other drawback of this position is that it can restrict deep breathing.
The Yearner Position
Description: In the yearner position, the sleeper lies on their side and has both of their arms stretched out in front of the body as if reaching for something that they are yearning for.
Pros: Like the fetal position, this side position is useful for alleviating certain problems such as sleep apnea and acid reflux, as well as snoring. Because it is a comfortable position, there is also less chance of waking up during the night.
Cons: Although the spine isn’t curved as with the fetal position there is still pressure on the organs when sleeping in the yearner position. Also, the position of the arms can increase the pressure on the shoulder nerves while also restricting the flow of blood, causing pain.
The Log Position
Description: Sleeping in the log position means that you are sleeping on one side with your arms straight down.
Pros: The log position is good for your spine, as it keeps it straight while still maintaining the natural curve. In addition to being comfortable, this position also helps with snoring and sleep apnea.
Cons: The log position can result in neck pain if you are not careful about the type of pillow that you use. There is also a risk that your top leg can shift down while you are sleeping, causing the spine to rotate and hip pain to occur.
3. Stomach Positions
Sleeping on your stomach is generally considered to be one of the unhealthiest options, as it can lead to lower back pain and places a lot of pressure on joints as well as muscles. Although it can help ease snoring as well as sleep apnea, there are also lots of other drawbacks, such as nerves becoming irritated and the strain that is placed on the neck.
If you do decide to stick to sleeping in a stomach position, it is best to use a thin pillow. You can even place a pillow under your lower abdomen or hips for added support.
The Freefall Position
Description: When sleeping in this position you lie flat on your stomach and place your arms over your head.
Pros: This position can help to prevent stomach acids from traveling upwards and can also lessen the pain caused by heartburn.
Cons: Due to the way in which you have to rotate your neck while sleeping in this position it causes the body to adopt an unnatural curve, which can result in body aches and neck pain.