Sleep is such a natural part of our everyday lives, yet many of us struggle to get it right. Some of us have problems actually getting to sleep, whilst others have trouble staying asleep. Then there are those who neglect those vital hours of undisturbed sleep, in favour of work, entertainment or socialising, to name a few.
You might think that when you do eventually settle down for the night, your sleeping sorrows are put to rest, but you’d be wrong. In fact, research has discovered that the positions we naturally sleep in could have an impact on our quality of sleep, as well as our overall health.
The effect of different sleeping postures on your quality of sleep and health can vary from person to person. Read on to discover more about sleeping postures and the impact they can have.
Sleeping on your back
Otherwise known as the savasana pose, this posture typically consists of the sleeper lying face up, with their arms relaxed and resting down by their sides and their legs straight, pointing slightly outwards. Sleeping on your back can bring about both a number of benefits and drawbacks, depending on your individual circumstances.
Firstly, it’s a fantastic position for boosting neck and spine health, even more so when you choose to sleep in this pose and without a pillow. This way, your neck and back are completely neutral, without being twisted or contorted into an unnatural position. Your body will also find it incredibly easy to breathe in this position.
Sleeping on your back is also beneficial for your skin, in that it provides your face plenty of room to breathe and for air to reach it during the night. As such, you might see some improvements to your skin condition when opting for this sleeping posture.
The biggest problem with the savasana position is that it increases the likelihood of snoring and sleep apnea. When you’re lying on your back and in a relaxed state, your tongue naturally falls back to block some of your airway, which in turn causes you to snore.
By analysing the pros and cons of sleeping on your back, we can see that this particular sleeping posture might be beneficial for anyone with neck or back problems, but not so much for anyone that’s prone to snoring problems.
Sleeping on your side
Whether you’re choosing to sleep in the fetal position (on your side with your legs curled up), or completely straight and almost plank-like, sleeping on your side is the most popular sleeping position according to research.
This particular sleeping posture is incredibly beneficial for expectant mothers, who often suffer from back-related problems during pregnancy. Doctors recommend sleeping on the left side to pregnant women, as it can take some pressure of their already strained backs, as well as improving blood circulation, which can be affected during pregnancy.
If you suffer from problems such as heartburn and acid reflux, then you might find this sleeping posture to be the best choice for you.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to sleeping on your side, particularly if you sleep on one side continuously throughout the night. By switching sides regularly throughout the night, you’ll reduce the likelihood of organ strain, where your stomach and lungs are forced to one side for a long period of time. You’ll also reduce the chances of waking up with a dead arm, too, which is never a pleasant way to start the day.
In conclusion, sleeping on your side is a great way to spend your hours of slumber, so long as you remember to switch sides every so often, whether that’s throughout the night or alternating sides from one night to the next.
Sleeping on your front
Unlike the sleeping on your side posture, research into this particular sleeping position has labelled it the worst way to sleep. However, that being said, there are certain people who can benefit from sleeping on their stomachs.
Being the opposite posture to sleeping on your back, front down sleeping can help those who commonly snore or who suffer from sleep apnea. Your tongue is less likely to fall back and restrict your airway, which is one of the causes of snoring. Of course, it’s much more comfortable to sleep with your face looking to one side, rather than pointing downwards into your pillow.
Sleeping on your stomach can aggravate the natural curvature of your spine, which over time can cause back ache and possible problems or conditions, too. Not only that, but when you sleep with your face to one side, you could put your neck under strain which can cause aches and issues over time, as well.
All in all, each of the main sleeping postures come with their own benefits and drawbacks. Deciding on the best position for you really depends on your own health and comfort, so it’s well worth bearing your own body’s wants and needs in mind, when choosing a sleeping posture to try out.