An average adult needs to get about seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you are going to spend about a third of your life in bed, it’s critical that you find a sleeping position that enables you to get quality rest. Let’s take a look at the three most common sleeping positions and how they can work to enhance or sabotage your overall health.
You Should Try to Sleep on Your Back if Possible
Sleeping on your back is ideal because it allows you to keep your neck and spine in its natural alignment. Therefore, you are less likely to develop neck, back or other types of pain that could complicate your ability to fall and stay asleep for several hours at a time. Furthermore, it makes it easier to keep your airways clear, which can prevent sleep apnea or other problems that can impact your mental and physical health throughout the day.
Sleeping on Your Side Can Be a Suitable Alternative
Although lying flat on your back may be the healthiest way to rest at night, it isn’t always the most comfortable. Instead, most people find that laying on their side is the most natural way to fall asleep. If you are going to do so yourself, make sure that you are laying with your chin facing the same direction as the rest of your body. This helps to ensure that your neck and spine are aligned properly throughout the night.
Sleeping on Your Stomach Is Generally Not Ideal
If you typically sleep on your stomach, it may be in your best interest to stop doing so right away. While it may appear to be a comfortable position, it can do serious damage to your head and neck. This is because it literally has to be pushed to the side so that you can breathe after falling asleep. Ultimately, you are at a significant risk of hurting your back or ending up with a chronically sore neck. In extreme cases, you may actually feel as if your stomach or back are twisting, which can be highly uncomfortable or lead to digestive issues.
Your Age and Body Type Will Play a Role in Determining How You Should Sleep
Although sleeping on your back may be best for the average adult, you are not an average adult. Instead, you are a unique individual who needs to take multiple factors into account when determining an ideal sleeping position. For instance, if you are not feeling well, it may be in your best interest to sleep on your side because it will help to clear your nasal passages.
If you do choose to sleep on your back while experiencing nasal congestion, make sure to keep the top half of your body elevated. This will help everything drain properly and minimize the risk that you wake up in the middle of the night. An extra pillow is often enough to keep you adequately propped up.
Sleeping on your side may also be a good idea if you are a heavier individual as sleeping on your back may cause you to sink into the mattress. The elderly are also encouraged to rest on their side as it can make it easier to breathe while also reducing wear and tear on their bodies.
Side sleeping may also be best if you are pregnant as sleeping on your back can put too much pressure on your spine. Research suggests that a pregnant woman should sleep on her left side as it can be beneficial for the fetus. As you may suspect, it will be difficult or impossible to lay on your stomach if you are more than a few weeks along in your pregnancy.
Finally, if you suffer from any type of gastrointestinal issue, it may be a good idea to sleep on your side. Doing so may prevent a multitude of digestive issues such as acid reflux or constipation from wreaking havoc on your body.
How Mental Health Issues Can Influence How You Sleep
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you probably understand how these conditions impact your ability to get to sleep or stay asleep. Even if you haven’t been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue, you may still become nervous or anxious as the clock ticks closer to bedtime.
In some cases, this may be because a neck or back injury makes it impossible to stay in one position for any significant period of time. In such a scenario, you may dread the thought of watching the overnight hours slip away knowing that you’ll struggle to get comfortable. Ultimately, you may find yourself sleeping on your stomach because it is the only way to find relief from sore muscles even if it’s generally not good for your head or neck.
You may also toss and turn at night because you're dreading what might happen at school or work the next day. It’s also possible that you’ll avoid sleeping in certain positions because you’re worried about how you look, if you snore too loudly or other reasons that your anxiety has concocted for you.
Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies that you can use to put your mind to sleep so that you can get to sleep as well. For example, you could use a product such as Slumber Sleep Aid to help you relax. You may also want to try getting into a sleep routine that discourages the use of technology before bed.
Make Sure That You Have the Right Mattress and Pillow
Regardless of which position you want to sleep in, you won’t be able to do so comfortably if you have an old mattress. As a general rule, you’ll want to replace your mattress about once every six to eight years for best results. Of course, mattresses that are made from memory foam, latex or other advanced materials may last much longer if properly maintained.
Over time, the springs and other important components will weaken or otherwise have a harder time offering proper support for your neck, back and spine. Therefore, you may begin to experience pain and discomfort that can interfere with your ability to sleep through the night.
If you experience chronic back, neck or spine pain, you should strongly consider a firm mattress as opposed to a plush one. Although plush mattresses may seem more luxurious, they are easy to sink into, which can exacerbate your medical condition. Conversely, a firm mattress will provide more support for your body, which can help to ease your pain.
If you have a polyester or down pillow, you should replace it every two years for best results. Pillows that are made from sturdier materials may last for up to five years or more assuming that they are properly maintained. Regardless of the material that your pillow is made from, be sure that it can cradle your neck so that it remains in alignment. If you choose to sleep on your side, the use of a body pillow may help to keep your body aligned while resting.
Your age, medical history and a variety of other factors will play a role when it comes to determining which sleep position is right for you. If you are having trouble sleeping, it may be a good idea to see a physician or to consult with a mental health professional. These individuals may be able to pinpoint the cause of the issue and recommend ways to overcome it. Your doctor may also be able to recommend products such as Slumber Sleep Aid that may be able to help you obtain the rest that you need and deserve.