Does Your Sleep Position Really Affect Your Health?
Sleep is one of the most important things when it comes to your overall health. If you are experiencing any health issues, one of the first things your doctor will ask you is likely about the quality and quantity of sleep you are getting. When you sleep, it is your body’s time to recharge and heal from the day. This is physical, but also mental. Sleep gives your brain a chance to catch up with information it gathered during the day and process it healthily.
The position you sleep in can also be important. It says a lot about you as a person and contributes to your overall sleep health and hygiene. You must understand how your sleep position affects you so that you can maximize the rest you are getting.
Why It Matters
Your sleep position has a more significant effect on your daily life than you may realize. The position you sleep in can lead to misalignment of your spine, joints, and organs. Misalignment can cause joint pain that continues during the day. It can also cause digestive issues or even breathing problems while you are asleep. Skeletal misalignment can also cause your muscles to seize up while trying to keep everything in place and can cause a lot of pain throughout your day. It can make it difficult to walk or do your job.
All sleep positions have pros and cons, and it is important to understand the limitations of your preferred position. You can correct some of these issues with small adjustments.
Some sleep positions are more common than others—most people sleep in one of these postures:
- Side Position– There are several variations of the side position, but the most common is the fetal position, in which you are on your side with your knees and arms curled toward your chest. This position allows your spine to be in its most natural position and allows for the best blood flow to the brain while you sleep. However, this position can also lead to pressure on your joints, particularly the shoulder and hip you lay on. You can alleviate that pressure by choosing the ideal bed for side sleepers. You can also find pillows specifically designed for side sleepers to keep your neck properly aligned.
- Back Position– Sleeping on your back has been shown to reduce the effects of aging on your skin, including wrinkles. If you sleep with a pillow under your knees, it can also help reduce back pain. However, if you snore or have issues with sleep apnea, it is not an ideal position. Generally, sleeping on your back does put your neck at an odd angle that can pinch your airway and worsen snoring or sleep apnea. If your mattress or pillows don’t support you properly, it can also lead to more back and joint pain, so it is good to be aware of any place where there is a gap between your body and your mattress.
- Stomach Position– This is the least common sleep position and is generally considered the least healthy. Sleeping on your stomach can lead to back and neck problems due to the curvature of your spine and your head being turned to the side so you can breathe all night. However, if you find it difficult to sleep in any other position, you can try sleeping on your stomach. You can place a small pillow beneath your stomach to help with spinal alignment, and you can place another small pillow or towel under your forehead so you can sleep face down. Studies have shown that a stomach position with those modifications can actually be helpful for people with bulging discs or degenerative disc disease.
What Your Sleep Position Says About You
There are a lot of different specific sleep positions that fall into the three basic categories. For instance, the freefaller, where you sleep on your stomach, your arms above your head, head turned to the side. There is also the yearner where you lie on your side with both arms stretched out. Or the soldier, where you lie on your back with your arms at your sides.
Those who sleep in the freefaller position tend to be seen as brash and sensitive to criticism. Those who are most comfortable in the yearner are cynical and open-minded. Soldier position sleepers are quiet and reserved. While the association between sleep position and personality isn’t a scientific one, many people find it interesting anyway.
What Works For You
In the end, as long as you are getting the right amount of sleep you need, the best course of action is to optimize the position you naturally choose. Find the position that is the most comfortable for you and allows you to sleep and see what you can do to sleep better. If you find that specific issues are being made worse by your chosen position, you can train your body to change.
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