All of us are aware of how important quality sleep is for maintaining good health. This may be why we get into our favourite position as soon as we lie down to sleep. While for most of us the position we sleep in is just a matter of habit, but did you know that symptoms of certain medical conditions can be reduced if you sleep in a particular position. Let’s see more about best sleeping positions for people having different medical issues.
Common sleeping positions
Let us first learn about the most common sleep positions and their advantages and disadvantages.
On your back
Sleeping on your back has always been considered to be the best sleeping position, even though it is not a very popular one. This position allows your head, neck and spine to rest in neutral position. Since there is no extra pressure on these areas, you will sleep more peacefully. Sleeping on your back help reduce the chances of acid reflux.
This position has its disadvantages as well. Sleeping on your back obstruct your airway and this can make you snore and even lead to sleep apnea.
On your side
Side sleeping is one of the most popular sleep positions. Sleeping on the side is considered to be good as it helps reduce acid reflux and wards of back and neck pain. It increases blood circulation to the heart and reduces heartburn.
Sleeping through the night on one side can leave your arm numb. When you sleep on the side with your face on the pillow, it can lead to wrinkles.
This is one of the worst positions for sleep. It can lead to back and neck pain as it provides absolutely no support to them. This position also puts pressure on joints and can cause numbness.
Your sleep position can improve your health
While you may find sleeping in one of these three positions comfortable, it may not be helping you to enhance your general well-being. Some sleep positions can assist in alleviating symptoms of some ailments. Let us understand how the following sleeping positions help in improving our health.
You first need to ascertain whether your neck pain is due to your lousy sleeping posture or something else. If your neck pain is at its worst at the end of the day, it may be due to some stresses at work. However, if you wake up with neck pain, it is time to change your sleeping habits.
If you have neck pain, sleeping on your back is the best option. This position provides the maximum support to your neck. Invest in a good pillow that will keep your head even with your shoulders. You do not want to strain your neck with a pillow that is too high or too low.
Sleeping in the wrong position can cause significant damage to your spine. So, to avoid any back pain, you must sleep with your spine in neutral position. Sleep on your back to maintain the neutral position of the spine. If you are not used to this, you can sleep on your side but make sure you do not curl up into a foetal position.
The next aspect to consider is how you use your pillow. Many people sleep with their shoulder, and even upper body on the pillow but this is the worst thing you can do for your back. Only your head and your neck should lie on your pillow.
To be more comfortable on your back, you can keep a pillow under your knees. For those who prefer side sleeping, you must keep a pillow between your knees for added comfort.
When you sleep on your back, it straightens out your spine, which puts less pressure on your hips. With less pressure and pain in your hips, you will be able to sleep much better.
Many of us are not aware that sleeping in certain positions can increase our anxiety. When you sleep tightly curled up, you can up your level of stress. For people who sleep on their back and stomach, relaxing your muscles helps in relieving anxiety.
Anxiety can severely affect our sleep, and lack of sleep can make us tense and cause anxiety. This vicious circle can change many aspects of our health. Try to relax your muscles, no matter which position you may prefer to sleep in, and it will help you get rid of anxiety.
The best way to avoid sciatica pain is to avoid putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back, through both the legs, to your feet. Avoiding pressure on this nerve can be pretty tricky. Choose a firm mattress.
Lie flat on your back and bend your knees a bit. Slide a pillow under your knees so that you can lie down comfortably. If you feel more comfortable to sleep on your side, you must place a pillow between your knees to help with sciatica nerve pain.
Indigestion and heartburn
If you have been facing the problem of indigestion and heartburn, it may be time to change your sleeping position. Sleeping on your left helps with the digestive process. Elevating your head slightly as compared to the rest of the body reduces the symptoms of heartburn. Sleeping on your stomach is also known to help with digestion, but it can cause other problems.
Sleeping on the left side is recommended for pregnant women. You can support your belly with pillows, and this will reduce the strain on your spine. Sleeping on the stomach can be very uncomfortable in this case. Sleeping on the back is known to reduce the flow of blood to the heart, and this can affect the baby.
- Suggested read: Sleep Guide for Pregnancy – How to Sleep When Pregnant?
How to change your position?
Changing your sleep position is easier said than done. We may make a conscious effort to change the way we sleep but often shift back into our regular position during the night. Here are some tips that will help you make the change:
Make changes to your bed
We form our sleep habits according to the bed in which we sleep. Change your mattress if you feel you need more back support. You can lift the bed a bit from one side if you suffer from heartburn. If you tend to curl up in your bed, consider buying a bigger one.
Add some pillows
Buy some good quality pillows for proper support to your head, neck, back and knees. Having some extra pillows is always handy when you have to place them under your knees or behind your back for additional support.
Consider changing the side you sleep on
Sleeping on your left side is easier if you are on the left side of the bed. Most people prefer to turn away from the bed while sleeping, so changing sides can make this easier.
Have a warm bath or drink a cup of milk before you get into your bed as this will calm your mind and help you sleep better. You are also less likely to turn back to your preferred position if you have a sound sleep.
Old habits die hard. So, you will find yourself back to your favourite position during the night. Be persistent and get back to the better position if you wake up in the middle of the night. Put some pillows behind your back to ensure that you don’t turn on your back if side sleeping is healthier for you.
Now that you are more aware of which sleeping position is better for you, you must adopt the position most suitable for your ailment. Not only will it make your sleep routine better, but you will also wake up happier.