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Which Sleep Position Is Best?
Is a question I am often asked. And my answer is always the same-It depends. There can be Pros & Cons of each position. Me personally? I like to sleep on my side because I am a terrible snorer and sleeping on my back greatly increases the severity of the snore. Plus, I don’t find sleeping on my Stomach very comfortable, so always a side sleeper.
I am always amazed at how complicated sleeping can be. You would think it was as simple as just head hitting pillow and sleeping, but it isn’t is it? There are so many possible problems that could and often do appear. Such as-
- Old Mattress
- Sunlight entering room
- Noise from vehicles, neighbours or family
- Uncomfortable pillows
- Cell phones or tablet activity
- Bedroom too warm or too cold
But what can you do about these individual problems I hear you ask?
I have already mentioned many of these problems and what to do about them in my blog 9 Quick Free Fixes for Sleep Disorders that actually work
but a quick synopsis would be-
- Snoring- Lie on ones side or buy an anti snore mouth aid
- Old Mattress- Obvious really-buy a new one-preferably a memory foam one
- Sunlight entering room- buy a black out blind or curtains if you prefer
- Noise from vehicles, neighbours or family-Buy earplugs
- Uncomfortable pillows- Obvious again, buy new pillows
- Cell phones or tablet activity-turn off phone & tablets at least 2 hours before bed
- Bedroom too warm or too cold-I won’t disrespect your intelligence
- Illness-not much you can do really other than medication
- Worrying- write a worry note, this is when you write down all your worries and then put the note away till tomorrow, always works!
But I wanted to answer this other question that I am always asked in a blog form rather than just a simple answer, because there are no simple answers!
So Which Sleep Position Is Best?
1. On your Back
This is easily the best position to sleep unless you have Sleep Apnea or you are a snorer. But only 13% of people do for one reason or another. By lying on your back you allow you head, neck & shoulders to remain in the neutral position that it is used to in daytime. This alleviates stress and pain to these areas ensuing a comfortable sleep. Lying on your back also alleviates Acid reflux. This is where acid from the stomach travels up the Oesophagus usually when the neck is below the stomach which can sometimes happen for side or stomach sleepers. To ensure you don’t get Acid reflux, make sure you have a neck supporting pillow that allows your chest to be at a higher level than your stomach.
Another advantage of lying on your back is you don’t have the problem that stomach & side sleepers sometimes have, and that is the internal pressure on the vital organs. This is where the internal organs, Heart, Liver, Kidneys are impacted by the body lying on side or stomach, as the muscles & bones are squeezed together, so are the vital organs.
Also, back sleepers have less cosmetic problems as they don’t scrunch their face into the pillow, which can sometimes lead to wrinkles & even lines caused by ridges and edges of pillows.
The Pros of sleeping on ones back are-
- Better for ones Back & Neck
- Less wrinkles & “pillow lines”
The Cons of sleeping on your back are-
- Snoring, If you snore, this is probably a worse position for you & also your partner. By sleeping on your back, gravity forces the tongue to fall to the back of the throat, impeding the natural air flow and making us snore.
- Sleep Apnea is always worse in the back sleeper position for much the same reasons as for snoring. Indeed, many experts believe the easiest way to alleviate Sleep Apnea is to side sleep position for the patient. See more about Sleep Apnea here.
- Some people have a slightly bent spine, so if they sleep on a hard mattress on their back, it forces the spine into a false position thereby giving them backache. They should alleviate this problem by either sleeping on their side, which is more spinal friendly for them, or by placing a pillow under their knees to maintain the natural curve of their spine.
2. On Your Side
Two variants of this position, straight legged & fetal (legs bent)
Side sleepers are by far the majority of sleepers, with about 45% of us preferring this position. But only 15% prefer to sleep sideways with straight legs, with 30% preferring the fetal position. The side sleeping position can sometimes cause Acid reflux as the Oesophagus is in line with the stomach. To alleviate this make sure you have a well supporting pillow. This position can put pressure on the internal organs and also cause the dreaded arm numbness that side sleepers will experience regularly.
Pros of sleeping on one’s side are-
- Less chance of snoring
- Alleviates Sleep Apnea
- Better for pregnant women
- Better for Heartburn or Acid reflux
Cons of Sleeping on one’s side are-
- Can make certain back conditions worse
- Can cause Acid Reflux
- More chance of wrinkles and pillow lines
3. Stomach Sleepers
These are by far in the Minority when it comes to sleeping positions as only 7% of people use this position. The problem is that although it’s better for snorers, it’s practically useless for everything else. Your head is turned to the side forcing your back & neck into an unnatural position, hence pain is common among stomach sleepers. The internal organs are pushed into the rub cage with added pressure that they could do without. Plus, your more prone to wrinkles and pillow lines, sometimes these pillow lines are very difficult to get rid of and can easily turn into wrinkles, especially as you get older.
Pros of sleeping on ones Stomach are-
- Less chance of snoring
- Better for Sleep Apnea sufferers
Cons of sleeping on ones Stomach are-
- More pressure on the internal organs
- Head twisted to one side creating neck and lower back pain potentially
- More chance of wrinkles & pillow lines
- Obviously wouldn’t be the ideal position for a pregnant women
As I said when I started, for such a simple activity, doesn’t it get complicated. For me though, it’s not about “Which Sleep Position Is Best?”, as I find it’s a bit more complicated than that. The ideal position is the one that works best for you. If you’re a snorer or suffer from sleep apnea than you should try side sleeping as this position alleviates these conditions, whereas it’s probably worse if you have bad back. Also, for Heartburn or Acid reflux sufferers side sleeping might not be the best. I think the best solution is to try each and see which one is best for you rather than depend on someone else’s opinion. That way, you know from your own experience which sleep position is best for you.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. Please feel free to visit other posts on my blog, especially if you are struggling with your sleep at the moment.
Please feel free to contact me via the contact page or at my email improvesleeps.com
I will try my best to answer any queries as soon as I possibly can.