Good physical health and mental sharpness require getting a good night’s rest regularly. It’s an established fact that the way you sleep at night directly affects the manner in which you function during the day. Lack of sound sleep can result in or worsen health problems, including cardiovascular and kidney disease, diabetes, obesity and breathing difficulties. Lack of sleep can also negatively impact mood, memory, concentration and logical thinking.
Often asked what the ideal position for sleeping well is, doctors and sleep experts agree that the best sleeping position is the one that lets you sleep soundly and wake up feeling rested. This can be sleeping on your stomach, side or back. Whatever position you find to be the most comfortable, there are measures you can take to improve your sleep.
Lots of people seem to prefer sleeping on their stomachs. Many health care professionals, however, consider stomach sleeping to be the least healthy sleeping position, since sleeping on one’s stomach puts undue pressure on internal organs. This sleep position can limit oxygen intake during the night. Although it can reduce snoring as opposed to sleeping on one’s back, stomach sleeping tends to distort the spine’s natural shape, which often results in waking up with lower backache.
Stomach sleeping also causes the neck to be twisted to one side, which forces the spine out of alignment, often causing pinched nerves and further backaches. If you’ve tried but are unable to sleep comfortably on your back or side, try placing a pillow beneath one side of your pelvis while sleeping on your stomach. Positioning the pillow there should at least partially counteract the improper spinal alignment.
Sleeping on Your Side
Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position, and often brings relief to snorers or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) sufferers. Lying on your left side, however, can subject the lungs and liver to undue pressure. Left side sleeping also constricts the ribcage, which causes the lungs to strain for oxygen. Sleeping on your right side, however, allows the spine to relax in a more natural position. Placing a pillow between your legs will reduce pressure on the knees and keep the hips from rotating and misaligning the spine during the night.
Although not the most common sleeping position, sleeping on your back is considered the healthiest of the three, since it relieves ribcage constriction, reduces lung strain and allows the spine to align properly and the back muscles to relax naturally. Back sleeping also causes the internal organs to expand and relax. Some people may find that sleeping flat on their backs places excessive and sometimes pain-causing pressure on the hips. This can usually be overcome by simply placing a pillow beneath the legs to raise them slightly to reduce the pressure. Sleeping on one’s back, however, isn’t recommended for snorers or sleep apnea sufferers.
Don’t Neglect the Head and Neck
Regardless of the position you find most comfortable for sleeping, the position of the head and neck can make a huge difference in the quality of your night’s rest. A neck that’s either overly stretched or too tightly compressed can cause pain and affect proper breathing. The neck needs to be supported in a forward facing position, which can often be accomplished by simply using the right pillow. If you’re experiencing ongoing neck pain, you may be sleeping on a pillow that’s the wrong shape or filled with the wrong material.. All Sit ‘n Sleep’s Southern California sleep centers offer a full line of quality pillows. One of our knowledgeable sleep consultants will be pleased to help you select a replacement that could quickly relieve your nighttime neck discomfort.
Lots of people awaken in a different position than when they fell asleep. It can be an indication of a night filled with tossing and turning. Discuss any physical ailments you may have with your health care provider, who may have some recommendations for improving your quality of sleep simply by changing sleeping positions.
Could the Problem be Your Mattress?
Lastly, it could be a too soft, too hard or too old and sagging mattress that’s unwittingly forcing you to sleep in an uncomfortable position and causing your discomfort and restlessness. If you suspect it’s your mattress that might be the problem, check out Sit ‘n Sleep’s informative article “Choosing the Right Mattress Type” to see if a new mattress will improve your nightly sleep.