Are you a back, stomach or side sleeper?
Getting your sleeping position right can make all the difference to sleeping patterns. It also has a knock on effect to how your body feels when you wake up the following morning. Sleeping in the wrong position, or staying still for too long can aggravate back and neck problems, arthritis symptoms and snoring. It may even obstruct the airways to your lungs, leading to obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder.
Read on for some pros and cons of different sleeping positions…
Sleeping on your front
Around 7% of the population sleep on their stomachs. This position has the benefit of potentially easing snoring by moving fleshy obstacles from the airway. It is however, a position that can have negative effects on other parts of your body. Your neck and spine are not in a neutral position, which can cause tingling, neck and back pain due to pressure on nerves. If you are unable to change this sleeping habit, prop your forehead up on a pillow. Placing a thin pillow under your tummy to align your neck and spine as much as possible can also help.
Sleeping on your back
Whether you sleep as a starfish, soldier, or arms over head, this position has both advantages and disadvantages. It may aggravate lower back pain and can heighten snoring and sleep apnea conditions. However, this is the best position if you’re suffering from heartburn, with your head slightly raised using a small pillow. Also, as your head, neck and spine are in a neutral position, you will be less likely to suffer from neck pain. The most beneficial sleeping position for your spine whilst lying on your back, is achieved by placing a pillow under your knees.
A better option for those who suffer from snoring or sleep apnea. It can help to ward off back and neck pain and reduces the effects of acid reflux, since your spine is elongated in this position. Side sleeping has been suggested by scientists to help speed up the removal of waste from the brain, something that only happens when we sleep. The downside? Since half of your face is always pressed into your pillow, it can lead to wrinkles…
This is by far the most common sleeping position with around 41% adopting it regularly. Sleeping this way on your left side, has the benefit of boosting circulation. However, resting in a tightly curled foetal position can restrict breathing as your diaphragm may become too compressed. Those who suffer from arthritis, may suffer with soreness when they wake in this position. To reduce any discomfort, place a pillow between your knees and try to uncurl your body as much as you can. Bring your chin away from your chest and lowering down your knees.
Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees may be the most beneficial sleeping posture for your spine, yet many of us find this a real challenge. Try to keep changing your sleeping position throughout the night, use a thin pillow under your forehead or tummy if you sleep on your front and if you sleep on your side place the pillow between your knees. This will help to set you up to be pain free the following day, after a better night’s sleep.
Get in touch if you’d like to book an appointment with your Osteopath for a full treatment and personalised advice for how you can stay comfortable at night.