How Sleeping Positions Affect Your Health
It is pretty common knowledge that getting enough sleep is crucial to both your mental and physical health but did you know that the position in which you sleep could be affecting your health too? While we sleep, a lot of us will maintain the same position, or a variation of it, all through the night. Imagine being awake and having to stay in one position for 8 hours straight, I’m sure you’d want to get comfortable. The same is true for sleeping positions – the different ways people sleep puts pressure on different parts of their bodies and eases pressure on others. This ultimately decides how healthy your sleeping position is for you.
There are basically three kinds of sleepers: those who sleep on their backs, those who sleep on their sides and those who sleep face-down on their bellies.
- BACK SLEEPERS (good for wrinkles and GERD; bad for sleep apnea)
There are a lot of advantages to sleeping on your back. For one, because you’re not sleeping on any part of your face you are actually reducing your chances of getting wrinkles. Two, the position prevents acid reflux which is great news especially if you have GERD or just ate a lot for dinner. Ladies might also want to consider this sleeping position because it has been found to help maintain perky breasts. Sleeping on your back also helps the spine and neck stay in as neutral position as possible; in fact most scientists would argue that sleeping on your back is best.
However, sleeping on your back also has its downsides. Of people who suffer from sleep apnea, a majority of them reportedly sleep on their backs. The position forces our tongues to collapse on our airways obstructing our breathing and producing snoring. For people suffering from sleep apnea, sleeping on the side is usually prescribed. Sleeping on your back on high pillows could also spell disaster for your neck.
- SIDE SLEEPERS (good for your back and neck; downside is it creates wrinkles)
Just like sleeping on your back, sleeping on your side may reduce neck and back pain. This is the sleeping position prescribed for pregnant women because it improves circulation to the heart. Sleeping on your side also prevents your tongue from obstructing your airways. A great way to stop your spouse from snoring is to actually roll them to the side. Sleeping on your left side is also a great way to address acid reflux and heartburn.
Side sleeping may cause premature wrinkles however because you are putting pressure on one side of your face. A way to avoid this is by using silk pillow cases. Since silk doesn’t crease, it may help you avoid unwanted wrinkles. Another disadvantage to sleeping on your side is the numbness you inevitably get on one side of your body – which could damage the nerves and muscles. Sleeping on one side of the body promotes organ strain, and although switching positions through the night could help you avoid that, how would you feel in the morning after being repeatedly awaken during the night?
- BELLY SLEEPERS (good for sleep apnea and digestion; bad for your back and neck)
Sleeping on your stomach may also help with sleep apnea and may improve digestion, but those are about the only things that are good about sleeping on your belly. Lying flat on your stomach while you sleep straightens out your back therefore disrupting the natural curvature of your spine. Since you’ll also be lying with your head turned to one side, you can expect to develop neck pain if you continue to sleep like this. Sleeping face down puts pressure on your diaphragm making it hard to breathe. If you really just can’t sleep any other way you better stick to one pillow, and make it a thin one, to ease pressure off your neck muscles.