So you’ve put away your phone, cleared your head and got a full 8 hours of sleep. Yet you still wake up feeling tired and in pain. Why?
Could be stress. Might be sleep apnea. It could also be your sleeping position.
Are you someone who sleeps on their side? Well, you’re part of the 41% of people who do. Problem is, that this might be the wrong way to sleep. Want to find the best sleeping position for your overall health?
Each sleeping position has its pros and cons. One may provide better airflow to your lungs, but increase back pain. While another sleeping position can do just the opposite.
How you sleep is incredibly important. It can easily lead to having too little sleep which can cause a number of issues. A 2011 European Heart Journal Study found that those who don’t get enough sleep have a 48% greater chance of having coronary heart disease.
There’s one sleeping position that experts agree is generally the best for your overall health, but that doesn’t mean it’s for you. The first thing you need to do to find the best sleeping position for yourself is to identify what sleep issues you have, if any. If you wake up feeling refreshed with no aches or pains, lucky you! You shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken, regardless of how you sleep.
But if you aren’t that lucky, and need some help, your next step is to stop sleeping on your stomach. According to the Mayo Clinic, sleeping in this position causes pain in your back and neck, and puts pressure on your entire body.
You’re more likely to wake up with aches and joint pain after sleeping on your stomach. But it’s not all bad, according to the Sleep Assessment And Advisory Service in Scotland, sleeping in this position can help with digestion.
If you insist on sleeping this way, put a pillow under your stomach to help reduce back pain. If you’re a side sleeper, then depending on how you do it, you might be on the right track. A 2003 research study by the Sleep Assessment And Advisory Service looked at 1,000 different sleepers.
Those who slept in the fetal position, which was the majority of people were more likely to wake up with back and neck pain, due to their spine being unaligned. But if you sleep on your side and in a straight position, it keeps your spine straight. This is a great way to reduce back pain. And if you sleep on your left side, then that’s even better.
Sleeping on your left side allows for better circulation since your blood returns to the heart from the right side of your body. Sleeping on the left side means certain blood vessels won’t get compressed while you’re lying down.
Sleeping on the left can also reduce any heartburn you may get after waking up. A study from the University of Maryland found out that those who slept on their left side were less likely to wake up with heartburn. Sleeping on your right loosens muscles that can bring up acid from your stomach and into your throat.
Now, what about sleeping on your back? Well, the experts agree that if you’re experiencing back and neck pain, this is the best sleeping position for you.
It all has to do with keeping your spine aligned. Having your spine in its natural position while sleeping can make your entire body feel better. From your neck, back, and even your jaw.
However, if you suffer from sleep apnea, this won’t be the best position for you, as you’ll have trouble breathing. You’re best to stick to sleeping on your side. But if you don’t have this issue, this is the best position for you to sleep in.
It may feel unnatural at first, but stick with it. To make it easier, place some pillows on either side of your body. This should prevent you from rolling onto your side.
Additional pillows under your head will also help keep your spine and neck aligned. A study out of China found out that raising your pillow higher will reduce neck and back pain. So give sleeping on your back a shot, your entire body may feel the change.
Oh, and another tip, if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try sniffing some lavender. This scent has been known to relax your brain, leading to an easier time falling asleep!
- “Effect Of Pillow Height On The Biomechanics Of The Head-Neck Complex: Investigation Of The Cranio-Cervical Pressure And Cervical Spine Alignment”. Ren, Sicong, Duo Wai-Chi Wong, Hui Yang, Yan Zhou, Jin Lin, and Ming Zhang. 2016.
- “Consent Form | Popular Science”. 2019. popsci.com. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “Side, Back, Or Stomach: Which Is The Best Sleep Position?”. Willson, Amelia, 2018. Tuck Sleep. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “This Is The Best Sleeping Position, According To Science”. Faletto, Joanie, 2018. curiosity.com. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “Which Sleep Position Is Best?”. Hines, Jennifer. 2018. alaskasleep.com. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “How Your Sleep Position Affects Your Sleep Quality“. Webmd. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “Which Sleep Position Is The Best? | Sleep.Org”. 2019. sleep.org. Accessed January 17 2019.