We all have a preferred position that we end up sleeping in night after night, but what does that position say about us, and most importantly, our health? You may be surprised to learn that our nightly posture can have a big effect on how we feel — could yours be doing you harm?
The fetal position
This is the most common sleeping position – 41% of people say it’s their favorite. However, it is also one of the worst for your health. It can cause back problems with stress placed on the lower back, as well as joint problems. Doctors usually suggest avoiding this position as your shoulders and neck should be aligned while sleeping. If you really can’t avoid sleeping in this position, many experts suggest sleeping with a pillow between the knees to alleviate stress on the joints.
On your back
Although this is probably the worst position for snoring, in terms of health benefits it definitely outweighs the others. Sleeping on your back is great at preventing back and neck pain — something a lot of people complain about without realizing it could actually be caused by their sleep position. It’s also the best for more cosmetic concerns; there’s less chance of wrinkles with nothing pressing on the face and breasts are fully supported, reducing potential sagging.
As with the aforementioned back position with your arms at your side, this position is good for the back but can cause snoring and sleep apnea. With your arms above your head like this however, you run the risk of developing shoulder pain due to the pressure being put on the nerves there.
Also known as the ‘log’, this position is good for preventing neck and back pain and also reducing acid reflux. One thing it’s not good for though is aging breasts! With no support, they are left to hang which can cause sagging. Side sleeping on the left side is great for pregnant women, as it increases blood flow to the uterus.
Sleeping on the right side can increase heartburn, though as with sleeping on your left side, it can be beneficial to those with back and neck problems. Unfortunately, you still have the potential issue of wrinkles and sagging breasts though thanks to that pesky gravity!
On your stomach
Bad news for people who like sleeping on their stomachs the best — this is actually the worst position in terms of possible negative health effects! It forces your spine into an unnatural curve, which in turn puts pressure on the muscles and joints, which can lead to pain and numbness.
This position also means your neck is forced into a rotated stance for hours at a time, potentially leading to aches and pains as well as having a potentially negative effect on your breathing and circulation. However, it’s not all bad news as sleeping on your stomach does have one saving grace — you (or the bed partner keeping you awake at night) are much less likely to snore!