Sleep is a crucial part of all of our lives – everyone needs sleep to survive. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves waking up in all sorts of strange positions – curled up in a ball, twisted, or straight as a log. But, which positions are good and which ones are bad? When it comes to sleep it can be hard to know. Fortunately, we’ve done the research and have compiled a list of the best and worst sleeping positions.
Resting in a supine position, otherwise known as on your back, is one of the best positions when it comes to sleep. According to experts, this position is great because your back is straight and not contorted, allowing the mattress to do its job in supporting the spine. In addition, lying on your back allows gravity to pull down on your face and chest, which can help those suffering from acid reflux.
According to WebMD, sleeping in the fetal position – curled up on your side – is favored by four-out-of-ten people in America. This position, especially popular amongst women, allows your spine to rest in its natural position, and may even help protect you against diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Research suggests this is because the brain is more efficient at clearing waste that can lead to neurological diseases when you sleep on your side, as opposed to when you sleep on your stomach or back.
Sleeping on your side – including the previously mentioned fetal position – is great for preventing heartburn and acid reflux, according to research. Side sleeping, particularly on the left side, is also encouraged by doctors for pregnant women. This is because it helps improve the heart’s circulation and eases pressure on the lower back.
“Wait a minute. I thought you said sleeping on your back was the best position for sleep?” If you’re thinking this, well, you’re right! But the fact is, while sleeping on your back has many benefits, it also has several drawbacks. If you suffer from sleep apnea, lying on your back is the absolute worst of all the sleeping positions.
According to Dr. Andrew Westwood, an assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Center, “your throat and belly are being pulled down by gravity, making it harder for you to breathe.” For better sleep, he recommends sleeping on your side.
Sleeping with one leg up – usually crossed over the other – can eventually lead to lower back or hip pain, as the pelvis is out of alignment. If you find yourself in this position, try placing a pillow between your legs, to take pressure off your pelvis.
Sleeping on the stomach definitely can help ease snoring, but beyond that benefit, it is widely considered to be the worst of all the sleeping positions. Sleeping in the prone position flattens the natural curvature of the spine. In addition, sleeping on your stomach forces you to sleep with your head turned to one side. Both can lead to strain and pain in the back and neck respectively.