Top Health Benefits Of Different Sleeping Positions

Young man peacefully sleeping in bed

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Most of us have a favorite sleeping position. It’s just a habit we acquire during childhood and we usually end up keeping it our whole lives. The position we sleep in however can affect many different things, including back and neck pain, our overall health, and even the wrinkles on your face. In this article, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of each sleeping position and whether a change might be in order for you.


1. On Your Side

This is the position most people pass out on the couch in. This is distinct from the fetal position (described below) in that the torso and legs are more or less straight, rather than curled up. This position can be good for people with neck pain, since it keeps the spine elongated. It is important however that you use a pillow or something else to prop the head up and keep it aligned with the spine, otherwise it can actually make pain worse. Keeping the neck straight is also beneficial for people with acid reflux disease. Sleeping on your side is also great for people who snore or have sleep apnea, a condition where a person will stop breathing while asleep. This is because laying on your side causes your airways to remain open and allow air to flow in and out unobstructed.

Be careful if you sleep like this, because it can cause back pain. This is because the spine can curve downward with gravity into the cushion. Luckily there’s an easy fix: Just put a firm pillow between your knees and this will keep your spinal columns more in alignment with one another reducing the pressure between them and preventing pain.


2. On Your Stomach

This is probably the worst position, because it puts pressure on blood vessels, nerves and joints, which increases the chances of a charlie horse, pain, and stiffness in the morning. There is also the specific issue of the neck. Assuming you aren’t sleeping facedown (you will not stay asleep very long if you’re not getting any air), your head will be turned to one side or the other. This can lead to stiffness and pain the next day if you maintain this position for a long time. Try turning your head to the left or right and holding it there for 5 minutes. After about 30 seconds, maybe less, you’re probably going to start feeling uncomfortable. Now imagine doing that for 6 or 7 hours. That’s basically what you are doing to your neck when you are sleeping on your stomach.

The one good thing about this position is that it seems to reduce snoring as it keeps your airways open. You can try sleeping facedown with a pillow or forearm propping up for forehead which will give you some room to breathe.

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