The Best and Worst Sleeping Positions

Your sleeping position can have a major impact on your sleep quality — as well as your overall health. Poor posture could cause back and neck pain, fatigue, sleep apnea, muscle cramping, impaired circulation, headaches, heartburn, tummy troubles, and even premature wrinkles. Here’s a look at the best to worst sleeping positions.

The Best: Back

Though it’s not the most popular position, it’s still the best. Your head is facing straight up and the weight of your body is evenly distributed on your spine. Sleeping on your back allows your head, neck and spine to rest in a neutral position, alleviating any pressure on those areas. Sleeping facing the ceiling also allows gravity to pull down on your face and chest, which is beneficial for those suffering from acid reflux. Just make sure your head is elevated so your stomach sits below your esophagus so acid and food are far less likely to come back up.

But for snorers, beware: Sleeping on your back is the worst of all the sleeping positions if you suffer from sleep apnea. Your throat and belly are being pulled down by gravity, making it harder for you to breathe.

The Next Best: On Your Side

Sleeping on your side (where your torso and legs are relatively straight) also helps decrease acid reflux since your spine is elongated and it wards off back and neck pain. This position also alleviates the likelihood of snoring because it keeps airways open. For this reason, it’s also the best choice for those with sleep apnea.

The recommended side is lying on your left side. Sleeping on your right pushes on blood vessels, preventing maximum circulation. Because of this added pressure on your veins, you body moves more frequently throughout the night to accommodate the lack of circulation. The left side, however, allows for cardiovascular return — meaning your heart can easily pump blood throughout your body when there’s less pressure on that region. Regardless of which side you’re sticking to, place a firm pillow between the knees to support good alignment between hips and joints. It’ll also help evenly distribute your weight throughout the night.

The Next Best: Fetal Position

Also within the family of positions on your side, this is the most popular sleep position: where you’re on your side and your torso is hunched and your knees are bent. This position is especially ideal if you’re pregnant and sleep on your left side because it improves circulation in your body and in the fetus, preventing the uterus from pressing against your liver, which is on your right side. This position is also good for snorers, but sleeping in fetal position can restrict breathing in your diaphragm. And it can leave you feeling sore in the morning, particularly if you have arthritis in your joints or back.

Not Ideal: Sleeping with One Leg Up

Sleeping with one leg bent higher than the other may do more harm than good. Having both legs up during sleep pulls weight off the pelvis and could potentially help someone with low back pain, but one leg up may do the opposite. This position causes displacement of pressure on one limb versus the other.

If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night with your right or left leg curled up toward your stomach, try placing a pillow between your legs; this takes pressure off your pelvis and helps stabilize the leg that keeps moving upward during sleep.

The Worst: Stomach

Sorry, stomach sleepers. Flopping face down with arms out is the easiest way to wake up with back pain and discomfort the next morning. Sleeping on the stomach pulls the belly down and hurts the curvature of the spine. This position also forces your head to turn on a 90-degree angle, which strains your neck. If this is your preferred sleeping position, trade in fat, fluffy pillows for a thin, firm one. It won’t prop your neck up too high, allowing for a more even curvature of your spine. And for better circulation, place a pillow or two under your pelvic region. It’ll decrease compression on the arch of your lower back, allowing for a more natural alignment of the spine.

Schedule a Consultation

The importance of quality sleep cannot be overstated — from keeping your appetite in check to regulating your blood pressure and cholesterol, the proper amount of sleep ensures your body is functioning at its best. To get you started, discuss and review your treatment options in order find the perfect option for you and your loved ones. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla today.

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