When it comes to getting a good night’s rest, many people fail to recognise that the way in which we sleep can have an impact on both your physical and mental health. Research has shown that the position we assume in bed not only affects the quality of sleep, but also has implications regarding our day-to-day mood and general well being. To help you get to grips with the best bed practices, here are some of the most common sleeping positions and their associated pros and cons:
Back and front
Sleeping on your back is generally thought of as the most beneficial position for your health. As long as you use relatively flat pillows, lying face up will help to keep your spine aligned with your neck and prevent potential back problems from occurring. Having your arms down by your side rather than upwards is also considered better for your health, as it will place less strain on your shoulders. If you’re worried about your complexion, lying on your back can also reduce the likelihood of skin problems and help to prevent wrinkles.
Sleeping on your front can be good for digestion and acid reflux. However, lying on your stomach requires your face to be tilted to one side, which can lead to neck problems. As your spine is unsupported, this position can also put strain on your back.
On your side
Sleeping on your side supports the natural curve of your spine, minimising the risk of back and neck pain. This posture also helps to open up your airways, preventing snoring and apnea (a condition where the walls of the throat relax, causing an airway blockage). However, side-sleeping can contribute to skin aging caused by gravity, including sagging breasts and wrinkles. This position can also cause arm, shoulder and hip pain as a result of restricted blood flow and added pressure to the nerve and joints.
What side you choose to lie on can also affect your health. Research suggests that lying on the right side can make increase heartburn, while the left side can promote healthy circulation. Doctors will usually recommend that pregnant women sleep on the left side, as this can stimulate circulation around the heart to benefit the baby.
Many people find that curling up into the fetal position is a comfy way to sleep, but this can have detrimental effects on your health. Having your knees pulled up near your chest will cause an excessive curvature in your spine and your neck. This position can hinder normal breathing patterns, so is best avoided.
When sharing your bed with someone else, it’s important to find a position that is convenient for you both. Keeping arms and legs drawn in towards your body will help to create more space and cause minimal disturbance to your partner. It is also worth noting that lying your back is often associated with snoring and may not be the most suitable choice if sharing your bed with a light sleeper!
It is also important to find a bed that can support your preferred sleeping position. Companies like Adjustamatic offer an extensive range of high quality electrical beds that can be adjusted to suit a variety a postures while offering effective pain relief from variety of health conditions.
The right bed and mattress combo will offer enough support for your height, weight and build and accept body weight without applying pressure. It is also important to use the right amount of pillows so that your head is aligned with your shoulders and spine – the same as if you were standing up.
Finding the right position
It’s important to find a posture that will have minimal impact on your health. However, sometimes it’s hard to go against our natural inclination. Changing your natural position can sometimes affect the quality of sleep as well as your ability to breath comfortably.
If you can’t seem to break your habit, try using pillows to improve your natural posture. For example, people who rest on their back can prop a small pillow under the arch of the back to align the spine, stomach sleepers can use a pillow to support hips joints and side sleepers can alleviate pressure with a pillow between their legs.