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October 5, 2019
So, are you spending the night in the best position you can? We all have our own consistent sleeping routine. No matter how much you move around at night, when you settle, it’s probably in that favorite position. The “favorite” position might not be the best for you and might be causing health problems, ranging from aches to sleep apnea. There are pros and cons of common ways to sleep as shown in the following paragraphs.
The fetal position is the most popular way and favored by more than 4 out of 10 people, especially women. This is a healthy way to doze as it allows your spine to rest in its natural alignment and might even help to ward off conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Animal research suggests that your brain does a better job of clearing waste that can lead to neurological diseases when you are sleeping on your side rather than your back or stomach. This is also a good position for pregnant women as it improves circulation to the growing baby and prevents the uterus from pressing against the liver. Lying on your left side while pregnant is recommended.
Make it better by stretching out a bit as putting your body into a tight ball or curling forward can limit your lungs and diaphragm. Keeping your back relaxed encourages easier breathing.
Sleeping like a log with both arms down and close to your body is how 15% of people prefer to sleep. This is good for your health, so resting on your side with your back straight, can help cut down on sleep apnea and nix that neck and back pain as it keeps your spine aligned.
Make sleep better by placing a soft pillow or folding blanket or towel between your knees to ease that hip pressure.
Sinking into the clouds while lying on your stomach with your arms tucked under your pillow or on either side of your head is called freefall. It’s really cozy when snuggling in bed but sleeping on your stomach can lead to low back and neck pain while you’ll toss and turn as you try to get comfortable on your belly.
The soldier style of sleep is lying flat on your back with arms by your side. This can cause snoring that affects ½ of all adults at some point and becomes more common as we age. The snoring can affect not only you, but also anyone within hearing distance. It can also lead to thickening and problems with the carotid artery, which supplies blood to your brain, face and neck. If you are prone to sleep apnea, sleeping on your back can lead to a sore lower back and pauses in your breath that will present restful sleep. One pro is that it can help acid reflux.
Make sleep better in a face-up position to help avoid aches. Place a pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees to support the natural curve of your spine and lower back pain chances. With sleep apnea or snoring, sleep on your side.
The starfish is sleeping on your back with your legs spread apart and your arms bent up on either side of your head. You are more likely to snore and aggravate sleep apnea but it will help with acid reflux. Again, place a pillow under your knees before dozing off. Swap that soft or worn out mattress for one that’s firmer and will support your spine and help to avoid back pain.
If sleeping is a problem, try a new position. Be patient as a habit can take a while to change. Be sure to invest in that new supportive mattress or that contour pillow between your knees if sleeping on your side.
Dr Fredda Branyon