We know that good sleep is important for a healthy lifestyle and that a night spent tossing and turning can lead to a terrible day. However, we often overlook a crucial factor when considering sleep quality, one that comes so naturally to us we can’t always control it: sleep position.
Sleep position has actually been linked to a host of health problems, which include snoring, acid reflux, lower back pain and even wrinkles. Understandably, people naturally gravitate toward positions that make them feel best when sleeping and allow for easier breathing. According to WebMD, side sleeping is the most popular position for Americans.
Although it may be difficult to record your sleep posture each night, paying attention to your body’s resting position before you fall asleep and when you wake will help pinpoint specific health implications associated with your nighttime posture. Find your preferred position listed below to read more about how specific sleep postures can affect your health:
Sleeping on Your Back
According to Medical Daily, sleeping on the back makes it easier for your head, neck and spine to align in a neutral position. In fact, sleeping on your back with your arms at your sides is considered the best position for spine and neck health as long as you don’t use too many pillows.
The “starfish” position – sleeping on your back with your arms up and out – is also good for your back and has been linked to prevention of facial wrinkles and skin breakouts. Daily Health Post, however, points out that back sleepers often suffer from sleep apnea and report snoring more than those who sleep in any other position.
Sleeping Face Down
Sleeping on your stomach is widely considered the worst sleep position by physicians, according to the Cleveland Clinic, as it does not support the natural curve of your spine. Though stomach-sleeping can be beneficial for those who snore, it may also lead to chronic aches as your head is kept to one side for long periods of time.
Sleeping on Your Side
With both arms down and your spine in its natural curve, sleeping on your side can reduce back and neck pain while also alleviating sleep apnea, according to Medical Daily’s breakdown of healthy sleep positions. When sleeping with your arms out in this position, however, sleeping on your side can restrict blood flow and put pressure on nerves which can cause arm or shoulder pain.
Although side-sleeping is common, the side you sleep on makes a difference. Research indicates that sleeping on the right side of your body can worsen heartburn, while sleeping on the left side can put strain on internal organs such as your liver, lungs and stomach.
Sleeping in the fetal position, with your knees drawn up and chin tilted downward, may be comfortable while you sleep, but often results in chronic back and neck pain. The extreme curl of this position is known to restrict breathing and should be avoided – ideally you want your shoulders and neck to be aligned when sleeping, rather than curled up.
Keep in mind that your mattress plays a key role in sleep posture and how well you sleep each night. For example, if you prefer sleeping on your stomach, having an old, worn-out bed that sags in the middle may restrict your sleep posture and hurt your back. Research shows that people sleep better in positions that allow their bodies to rest without constricting limbs or causing them to twist into unnatural positions. With nearly one third of our lives spent asleep, it should come as no surprise that getting a good night’s rest is essential for our health, mind and mood.
What’s your favorite sleep position? Share with me in the comments below!
About The Author
With more than 15 years of experience with Mattress Firm, Ken Murphy has worn many hats, all of which (were Mattress Firm red, of course) prepared him to step into the role of president and CEO, and perhaps most importantly, his role as a contributor to The Daily Doze. Here on the blog, he shares his thoughts on the importance of a good sleep environment, the impact of a good night’s sleep on your career, and the importance of sleep for his family.
At Mattress Firm, Ken keeps his finger on the pulse of the company as he oversees sales, field operations, marketing communications, digital strategy, learning and development, and talent management. His passion and gusto – widely known and recognized around the Mattress Firm offices – are the drivers behind his dedication to live out the Mattress Firm mission to improve lives one relationship at a time. In 2011, Ken was awarded Mattress Firm’s distinguished Spirit of Life award for his commitment to living out Mattress Firm’s mission and values in his day-to-day life.
Ken holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Management from Stephen F. Austin State University. He lives in Houston with his wife, Susan, and is a proud father of five children.
Best Night’s Sleep: As an aficionado of alliteration, Ken’s sleep time routine includes thinking up mattress-related tongue twisters like “Matt’s magnificent mattress makes mornings marvelous,” until he drifts off to a peaceful night’s sleep.