Back, stomach, or side – What’s the ideal sleep position?
How you position your body while you’re awake and asleep can affect your health. If you experience aches or pains, your posture may be to blame.
You’ve probably been told to sit up straight at least once in your life – probably more. But good posture isn’t just about looking good or having good manners. Good posture can reduce pain by keeping your bones and joints in alignment. It also helps your muscles work more efficiently.
Good posture doesn’t just affect how you hold yourself when sitting or standing. Good posture also factors into your sleep quality. And depending on your condition, whether you usually sleep on your side, stomach, or back can impact your health.
What’s the ideal position to sleep in?
The sleep position that’s right for you is the one that doesn’t cause pain and promotes good posture. Also, if you have a particular condition, like sleep apnea, that may factor into your optimal sleep position.
Sleeping on your stomach (prone position)
Adults are least likely to sleep on their stomachs. But many still do, although sleeping on your stomach is the sleep position most likely to cause pain. Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on your spinal column, which makes you more likely to experience back and neck pain.
Also, sleeping on your stomach restricts your chest’s movements, making breathing more difficult.
Sleeping on your back (supine position)
This is the second most common sleep position. If you have lower back pain, sleeping on your back can offer relief. Sleeping on your back is also the best position to prevent facial skin irritation, including wrinkles, through pillow contact. Habitual contact with a pillow may contribute to the aging process.
However, sleeping on your back can make snoring and acid reflux worse. And if you have sleep apnea, sleeping on your back is not recommended. Your airway is more likely to become obstructed in this position when your muscles and tissues relax as you sleep.
Sleeping on your side (left or right)
Sleeping on your side has several benefits. And it’s also the position adults prefer sleeping in most. Sleeping on your side is recommended if you snore or have sleep apnea. This position promotes better airflow, as your airway is less likely to become obstructed. Additionally, sleeping on your side relieves spinal pressure, thus preventing lower back and neck pain.
Choosing to sleep on your left or right side can also depend on your health conditions. People who have heart failure may have an easier time breathing if they sleep on their right side. And people with acid reflux may see their symptoms improve if they sleep on their left side.
If you have acid reflux, you may also want to place a foam wedge under your mattress to elevate your upper body.
How to sleep when you’re pregnant
Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging when you’re pregnant, especially late on in the pregnancy as the fetus grows.
Healthcare professionals typically recommend that pregnant people sleep on their left side. This position is best because it doesn’t put as much pressure on the vein carrying blood from the lungs to the heart. And this allows the heart to pump more easily. Sleeping on the left side may also improve blood flow to the fetus.
If side-sleeping is difficult, people can place a pillow between their legs or at the small of their back. This can relieve discomfort and provide more support.
Talk to your doctor if…
If you have trouble finding the best sleeping position for you and it’s keeping you up at night, talk to your doctor. Or, if you don’t get relief from pain or your other symptoms, talk to your doctor.
A lot of people have a hard time finding a comfortable sleeping position, especially if they’re trying to sleep in a new position. But your doctor can provide advice and recommend products that can help you maintain your optimal sleep position.
Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website: MeghnaDassani.com.
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