Why Does Your Sleep Position Matter?
Many people assume their bodies position themselves well for sleep. After all, if you are comfortable enough to fall asleep, you are probably sleeping correctly, or so the thinking goes.
You may be surprised to discover that some sleep positions are better or healthier than others. According to experts, sleep positions can be positive or negative depending on your age and certain medical conditions.
General Body Pain
Back and neck pains can interfere with your body getting the optimal position for sleep. That's why many people rely on pillows to find a more comfortable sleep position.
If your neck hurts in the morning or you constantly feel the urge to stretch, you may need a better sleep posture. You can try changing pillows or not using them at all. Stomach sleepers often do not need pillows as the position offers a lower angle.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous disorder in which the airways collapse during sleep and cause unusual sleep patterns. This condition often leads to snoring which can be irritating.
People with sleep apnea should find positions that help keep their airways open. Sleeping on your stomach or your side could help.
If you have very sensitive skin or constantly worry about aging, sleeping face-up could be best. Sleeping on your side or your stomach can create noticeable facial creases which may become wrinkles. Additionally, pillows and other bedding tend to carry a lot of dirt and bacteria. They may cause chronic skin breakouts and other issues.
Heartburn and Reflux
Heartburn and acid reflux occur when stomach acid travels back into the food pipe, creating a burning sensation in the lower chest. People who are pregnant or who have gastroesophageal reflux disease experience these symptoms often.
Sleeping on the right side positions the stomach above the food pipe, which is especially bad when the stomach is full. This position creates easier access for stomach acid to travel into the esophagus lining. Doctors recommend switching to the left side to ease the burning.
Pros and Cons of Different Sleep Positions
Is it better to sleep on your back, side, or stomach? It depends.
1. Sleeping on Your Back
Sleeping on a flat back can be ideal for people with neck pains, nasal congestion, lumbar spinal pain, and worries about wrinkles. Pillows come in handy for neck and upper back support, too.
Sleeping on your back may not be ideal if you are pregnant, experience acid reflux and heartburn, or are an older or heavier adult. The position is even worse for people who snore or who have sleep apnea, as their airways may collapse.
2. Sleeping on Your Stomach
This position is the least restful because the breathing system works overtime against gravity. If you are pregnant or worried about wrinkles, it is not the best option.
Nevertheless, the right pillow and mattress may help you sleep better in this position. It can open up the airways and considerably reduce snoring.
3. Sleeping on Your Side
Generally, sleeping on your side promotes spinal alignment, which is good because the spine's flexibility reduces with age. This position is ideal for almost everyone, including pregnant women and people with sleep disorders.
In pregnant women, side sleeping helps relieve the pressure of the growing belly while promoting blood circulation. However, it is not recommended for people with shoulder pain because it causes tightness in the area. Also, sleeping on your side can lead to faster skin aging as the skin stretches and compresses against the pillow.