Are you in need of a good night's sleep?
You're not alone. Over 70% of Americans report that they don't get quality sleep.
And surprisingly, the way you lie in bed can have an effect on not just on the quantity and quality of your sleep, but on your health and wellness too?
Let's take a look at how you sleep, which sleep positions are considered the best for your overall health, and the adjustments you might need to work on.
Let's start with the hands-down worst position for your health: prone, or on your stomach. While it may feel good to fall on your bed face-first into a soft fluffy pillow, it is important not to stay that way. For starts, lying prone pulls the belly and spine downward, placing a huge strain on the back. The beautiful posture you work so hard to maintain during the day is cancelled out if you spend your nights on your tummy. It is likely that people who sleep like this wake up to sore backs in the morning. Moreover, when on the belly, the neck is forced to turn at a 90º angle in order to breathe, which puts a huge strain on the muscles of the head and neck.
Not quite as bad, but still not great, is sleeping with one leg curled toward your chest or belly, occasionally known as the horizontal tree (think of the yoga "tree" position). With only one leg curled in, the pelvis is left out of balance, which stress the lower back muscles, possibly causing pain.
Sleeping on your side is one of the better options, but it still has some pros and cons. Side sleeping is beneficial to your spine because it keeps it elongated and reduces strain. Sleeping on your side is also known to reduce snoring, acid reflux, and heartburn. but which side you lie on actually makes a difference. Unfortunately, because of the pressure on the face, side sleeping can result in early wrinkles as the skin is pressed into the pillow for periods of time. It can also cause breast sagging over time, as breast tissue is generally not supported in sleeping clothes.
It is also important to note which side of your body you sleep on. Of the two side positions, sleeping on the left side is better for all-around circulation. Sleeping on the left side allows unrestricted blood flow back to the cardiovascular system, which may result in less fitful sleep. Pregnant women are advised to sleep on their left sides for the cardiovascular benefits. Sleeping on the right side puts pressure on the rib cage and may strain the lungs, which can create a situation where you toss and turn to restore better blood flow. Additionally, if you are prone to acid reflux or heartburn, sleeping on the right side can make those conditions worse.
The overall best position for sleeping is supine, or on the back. This position creates the most neutral and supportive position for the spine. With the head slightly elevated, this position also reduces the likelihood of esophageal reflux and heartburn. Additionally, there is nothing pressing on the fact to create premature wrinkling of the skin. Sleeping on the back is not advised for those who are prone to snoring or have sleep apnea, nor is it recommended (or comfortable) for pregnant women. Overall though, supine is the preferred position unless a medical condition dictates that another position be assumed.
If you are not waking up rested, or you find yourself sore in the morning, play around with the position you sleep in. Use a pillow to support the top leg when side sleeping to help support the pelvis and lower back. Over time, you may find that you settle in well to one of these positions and reap the health and beauty benefits that come with them.