(Photo by Annemiek Vander Kuil)
You wake up in the morning sore, creaky, with neck and back pain. You might even have some stomach pain that wasn’t there when you went to bed. It’s something we rarely think about; is our sleeping position helping us or hurting us? There are primarily four different sleeping positions, and researchers have determined which way is best for people with different individual issues.
1. Sleeping On Your Back
Overall, this is the healthiest position to assume when you sleep. It gives your neck and back the most support, and helps with acid reflux (because your head is above your stomach). Use a pillow puffy enough to keep your head and neck supported, but without propping up your head too much. If you’re prone to snore, though, you probably can’t sleep on your back. The position of your mouth and throat allow your airway to be compromised and extra tissue to vibrate as you breathe in and out – snoring. Chronic snorers should be checked out for sleep apnea (this can be serious stuff).
2. Sleeping On Your Side
If you cannot sleep on your back, sleeping on either side would be the next best position. It’s ideal for people who snore, as it allows your airway to open more easily. With the right kind of pillow – thick enough to fill the space above your shoulder so your head and neck are in a neutral position – your spine will be in proper alignment. If you’re pregnant, try to sleep on your left side – ideal for blood flow!
3. Sleeping In The Fetal Position
This is like a modified “Sleep On Your Side”, and you would use the same kind of pillow. The problem with sleeping curled up in the fetal position is that your spine is out of alignment and it tends to stop you from breathing from your diaphragm. It may prove to be one of the only positions you can tolerate when pregnant, but try to straighten out as much as you can. Your back will thank you.
4. Sleeping On Your Stomach
This, overall, is the worst sleep position. Think about this – what if you turned your head in one direction for twenty minutes, and then the other for twenty minutes – all day long. That’s what you are doing when lying on your stomach. Not to mention compressing all your organs under the weight of your spine and having your back and neck out of alignment all night long. No wonder you wake up all sore and arthritic if you sleep on your stomach!
So there you have it. In order of preference, the posture to assume when you sleep. There’s no guarantee that you’ll end up sleeping this way in the morning, but you can at least start out that way at night…
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Tags: doug stewart sleep