Everyone has their own preferred sleeping position when settling down at night to go to sleep. However, some sleeping positions are better for your health than others. Whether your position leads to back or neck pain or prevents sleep apnea, your sleeping position may enhance your sleep or hamper it. In this post, we will look at different sleeping positions and the impacts that they have on your health. So, you can find out whether your preferred position is aiding your health or potentially leading you to health problems.
Factors affecting your sleeping position
When sleeping the number one priority for us, is to rest in comfort. This leads to us having different sleeping positions to suit our individual needs. A position that is perfect for you may be very uncomfortable for someone else. So, it is very subjective when it comes to how we sleep. There are many different factors that affect the way that we sleep. Our age and gender can have an effect on the sleeping position that we prefer.
As we get older in age, we can become more favored to a side sleeping position. Previous research has shown that side sleeping becomes a preference in early adult stages, and this increases with the older we become. During older adulthood, it has been found that we opt for right side sleeping. This preference is recognised to protect heart and breathing functions. Your sleeping position becomes more important with age as the older we get, the more health challenges we face. With older bodies being less flexible and more prone to back pain and stiffness, it is essential that your sleeping position aids your body.
Gender is also another factor found to affect our sleeping position, as men and women have different preferences. Women are found to prefer the foetal position and find it more comfortable than men. With pregnancies, women will tend to choose a left side sleeping position. This shows that women have more to consider when it comes to sleeping positions, leading to a difference in preferences. Men are found to fidget and move more in their sleep, resulting in the change of sleeping positions throughout the night.
It is found that a large number of adults prefer side sleeping. For those struggling with sleep apnea or snoring, side sleeping can help prevent this. This is due to the airways staying open in this position aiding your breathing. This position also decreases acid reflux and due to the spine being elongated, pressure on the back and neck is reduced. It has also been found that side sleeping helps to remove waste chemicals from the brain, more efficiently than front or back sleeping. However, the downside of this sleeping position is that if you suffer from shoulder problems it will not be suitable for you. The shoulder you lie on will need to be free of any issues, as this position could result in more unnecessary pain for you. This position can also cause arm numbness and decreased circulation, as all of the pressure will be on the arm you are lying on.
The foetal position has become more popular amongst adults recently, because of the benefits the position brings. This position is particularly very beneficial for pregnant women. The foetal position improves the circulation in your body and the foetus. This also prevents the uterus from pressing against your liver, leading to a more comfortable sleep. If you struggle with snoring and sleep apnea, the foetal position can also reduce the effects of this. Although the position brings a lot of benefits, it can leave you feeling sore in the morning. Those that suffer from arthritis in their joints and back, may feel sore after sleeping in this position. However, this can somewhat be prevented by keeping your body as straight as possible or putting a pillow between your knees to reduce stress on the hips.
Sleeping on Your Back
Sleeping on your back is a very popular sleeping position and is often described as the most basic. By sleeping on your back you promote a straight spine, which results in reduced pressure on the back and neck. This sleeping position is great for those with lower back pain as your whole back is supported throughout your sleep. Although sleeping on your back is effective for your back and neck, it also increases the chances of sleep apnea. Those that sleep in this position are more likely to suffer from breathing problems through sleeping such as sleep apnea and snoring. However, this can be avoided by raising the head with either pillows or the use of an adjustable bed, to aid your airway. Raising the head during this sleeping position will enhance your breathing through your sleep.
Sleeping On Your Front
Sleeping on your front is found to be the least favoured position amongst adults. This may be due to the position leading to more problems than benefits. The primary positive effect of sleeping on your front is that it can alleviate snoring. So, for those who suffer from sleep apnea or snoring will be able to breath better in this position. However, this position is the worst for your back and neck as there is no support to the spine. As your head has to go to one side for you to breath, this puts stress on the nerves in your neck leading to aches and pains. With increased pressure on muscles and joints, this sleeping position can also result in numbness and stiffness in your body.
If your sleeping position is currently causing you problems, try one of the above to enhance your sleep quality. Not only will you witness benefits to your sleep, but you will also see the positive effects on your health. Find the right sleeping position to affect your health positively now and test if a different sleeping position will be better for you.