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The best position to sleep in is on the side, with the back straight, while allowing the spine to curve naturally, without putting any strain on it.
However, deciding what sleep position is your personal best is a difficult task if you are not well informed. Before looking at research we should probably agree that the best position to sleep in is usually the one that allows you to sleep uninterrupted. This is the one on which limbs don’t fall asleep and the one that you feel most comfortable in.
Even if there are many reasons, which we will later discuss, for which sleeping on the side is best, it is important to note that a high quality sleep, that lasts enough to feel rested in the morning, is much more important than the position of our body.
People are different and we all find comfort in different positions. You should always keep in mind your own personal preferences, as long as they are not too extreme and they don’t interfere with blood flow.
Now let’s look at what scientists have to say about it and why it is sometimes important to sleep in particular positions.
Why does the sleep position matter?
Different people have different needs and as our needs change, so should our sleeping position.
For example, pregnant women must never sleep on their bellies, for obvious reasons. Sleeping on their back can be bad too, because breathing becomes difficult, due to the restricted movement of the diaphragm that is compressed by the ever-growing uterus.
Those who snore or suffer from sleep apnea are at their worst while they sleep on their back, and sleeping on the side, but in a fetal position can put strain on the spine.
We spend a third of our life sleeping, and while we sleep our body is busy repairing itself and keeping our memory, hormones, immunity and hormones in check.
Sleep deficiency can lead to a lot of problems that will have a huge effect on the quality of our life. You can read more about these serious problems here.
This is why it is very important for us to be comfortable while we sleep and to sleep in a position that facilitates a good night’s rest.
In this article we will look at the most common sleep positions and at a couple of sleep enemies that we all had in our home at some point.
The mattress – sleep enemy no. 1
During our childhood, most of us sleep like babies. Scratch that, babies are famous for not sleeping. This saying was probably invented by someone who never had a child. Let’s stick with ‘we slept really well when we were kids’. That sounds legit.
At some point we all got to sleep on a bad mattress and as adults we were somewhat reluctant to invest in a high quality mattress and a bed that would accommodate our needs.
This is a rookie mistake and if you are doing it right now, you need to stop. A large enough bed and a very good mattress are assets that you should invest and reinvest in.
They are fundamental for a good night’s sleep. Sleeping on a bad mattress for too long will result in sleeping less, waking up during the night and having back problems.
In turn, this will reflect into your day to day life by giving you mad short term memory, exposing you to accidents due to lack of attention, a bad level of work efficiency and less patience for your family.
The pillow – the hidden enemy of sleep
Pillows are a decisive factor for our sleep position. We are somewhat addicted to them and if the pillow is not good for us, it can do more harm than good,
The purpose of the pillow is to keep our spine relatively straight. Due to the shape of our head, if we don’t use one at all, it is difficult to sleep on the side.
However, a bad pillow will give us a very bad position that will interfere with our sleep and will, most likely, translate into a headache or a neck pain in the morning.
The main idea here is to invest time and money in research to learn what mattress and pillow you need and ultimately buying the right products that will help you sleep better.
What sleep position is best?
This study looked at how people sleep, by using different sensors. Turns out that most people use the side, followed closely by those who sleep on the back. Only 7% of the study participants slept on their stomach.
The side position
This position is the best for a few reasons:
Decreases snoring, both the volume and the episodes of sleep apnea;
It is good for those with different conditions like acid reflux, back pain, shoulder pain;
This is a good position for pregnant and breastfeeding women too;
It is ideal for the spine.
However, for this position to be truly comfortable, both the mattress and the pillow need to be perfectly suited to the individual.
What’s more is that depending on the condition and the weight of the person, they might need to keep a pillow, or a rolled towel between their knees.
The back position
This position can be particularly comfortable especially for those who have blood circulation problems.
It has the advantage of putting little strain on the spine and can be great for those who have tense shoulders and neck pain.
Nevertheless, everyone gets to suffer if a person who snores sleeps on their back. It makes snoring louder and makes sleep apnea worse. Even those who don’t usually snore might do so while sleeping on their back.
Another great advantage of sleeping on the back comes for people who suffer from jaw problems.
There are many who grind their teeth and end up having a sore mandible joint. This gets worse if they put pressure on it, and sleeping on their back is a good solution for them.
The stomach position
Sleeping on your stomach can be really bad for your neck and your back. This will reflect in the quality of your sleep and in how you wake up the next day.
It puts pressure on the spine, the neck and the jaw. For some people it lowers symptoms of sleep apnea but this is not a good enough reason to choose this position as it also interferes with blood flow.
If the only reason for which you sleep on your stomach is that it helps you cope with apnea, try to address your problem in other ways, because there are many safe strategies to do this.
No matter what your favorite sleeping position is, make sure that your bed is comfortable, and that you wake up feeling rested and not sore due to the position you slept in.
If you do have trouble sleeping try to change the position to a more adequate one, and to make adjustments to your environment, to help you sleep well and wake up rested.
You can read a few tips that will improve your sleep in this article.