After a long, hard day there is nothing more satisfying than curling up in bed with a relaxing night ahead. However, experts say that your choice of sleeping position may actually have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being.
In today’s busy, fast-paced society, sleep is often underestimated and undervalued. In our efforts to be productive and successful, we prioritize our careers, goals, dreams, and desires ahead of a good night’s sleep, without realizing we may be destroying our health. After all, lack of sleep has been associated with an increase in your risk of heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. With an estimated 40% of Americans getting less sleep than they should, it’s a situation that demands our attention.
Not only does the way you sleep impact your ability to fall and stay asleep, but it can also cause aches, pains, digestive struggles, constricted airways, premature wrinkles and even an increase in snoring. While it’s not always easy to re-train yourself, it may be worth it!
What impact might your go-to sleeping position have on your overall health and well-being?
On Your Back
Believed by experts to be the best position, sleeping on your back helps to align the spine, head, and neck in the most natural position. This prevents any unnecessary pressure that may cause ongoing back and neck pain. It has also been found to prevent acid reflux by positioning the body in a way that it discourages the food and acid from the stomach to travel back up your digestive tract. Unfortunately, in some cases, this can actually cause lower back pain depending on the number of pillows you are using and how it’s positioning your body. It has also been associated with an increase in snoring.
If you sleep on your back with your arms straight down on each side of your body, this is known as the ‘soldier’ position. This position offers the same benefits and risks as any other version of sleeping on our back, however, experts say that it provides a little insight into your personality. Those who identify this as their go-to sleeping position are quieter and more reserved in their daily lives. They also set extremely high expectations, both for themselves and others around them.
Another way of sleeping on your back, starfish refers to when your arms are up near your head while sleeping, your body almost creating a natural ‘starfish’ like shape. As you are still sleeping on your back, you still experience the same benefits and risks, however, the placement of your arms reveals that you tend to be an extremely friendly and loving individual. It is also believed to be lower stress than many other versions of sleeping on your back as it’s all about allowing yourself just to be natural, which means that your body will adjust to your spine in a natural rest position.
On Your Stomach
While this may be the miracle solution to ease snoring, there are many concerns with sleeping in this position. In fact, experts warn this may be the worst position you could sleep in. Unlike sleeping on your back, sleeping on your stomach works against the natural curve of your spine, leading to pressure in areas that are less than ideal. Furthermore, you run a risk of pinching or irritating nerves throughout the body causing numbness or tingling.
On Your Side
If you struggle with snoring, good news – sleeping on your side is said to position the airways in an optimal way, helping you to breathe better. While this isn’t a treatment for sleep apnea, it can help to minimize the symptoms. As long as you use a thick enough pillow, you can position the neck in such a way that it maintains the alignment of the spine, reducing the risk of aches and pains. This is also the optimal sleeping position for pregnant women, using pillows to support the body as necessary.
Sleeping in the fetal position refers to sleeping on your side, with your knees pulled up closer to the chest. This position not only curves the spine in a way that could cause pain, but it also compacts the abdominal area restricting diaphragmatic breathing. However, this position is said to be one of comfort and security, which can lead to a better night sleep for those who may be struggling.
A well-known couples sleeping position, spooning allows a couple to fall asleep while still cuddling one another, making it a go-to position for those that are seeking a little extra intimacy in their lives. Physical intimacy is considered by experts to be a basic human need, one that we require to truly be satisfied with our lives. It is associated with a number of benefits due to the increase of ‘feel good’ hormones released when cuddling, including an improved mood and lowered stress levels. It’s also a great way to improve your bond as a couple.
Image via The Sci Community