Most people in the world do not tick the required number of sleep hours, which leaves them with a greater risk for depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases. Even if you are clocking the 7-8 hours of sleep every day, experts say that the sleeping position matters equally. You might be inviting unexpected health problems if you are not sleeping in the appropriate position. To your surprise, your sleeping position might be the reason for your back and neck pain, acid reflux, weight gain, premature fine lines, and wrinkles. Want to know the best p.m. pose? We have done the research and listed the best sleeping position recommended by experts and how you should sleep concerning your health.
What Is The Best Sleeping Position According To Experts?
Interestingly, clocking the sleep time with just your eyes closed isn’t enough. Your favorite or most comfortable sleeping position might be giving you unexpected health problems. Sleeping in the right position is very important to maintain health, say experts. Let’s know the different sleeping positions recommended and how you can make it better.
This is also known as the baby sleeping position and is the most common one. Curling up on one side just like in the mother’s womb while sleeping gives you the most natural alignment of the spine, said Dr. Chitra Kataria, chief of rehabilitation services, principal of ISIC Institute of Rehabilitation. Almost 47% of the people favor this sleeping position. It is also indicated that people who sleep in this position are friendly and warm-hearted. Avoid this sleeping position if you have breathing problems and also back and neck pain.
Experts Recommend: A more relaxed back can ease breathing and use a plump pillow to give your head and neck the necessary support.
Sleeping on your back is the next common sleeping position. This type is also called the soldier position where your arms are rested to your side. Experts say that this is the best sleeping position for your spine and neck health. This position might be great for your spine but not for the ones in the same room. Snoring is more frequent when you sleep on your back. Also, it is not an ideal position for people who have acid reflux issues and can also lead to a sore back.
Experts Recommend: Using a pillow that elevates your head so that the stomach is below the esophagus, to prevent the food from coming up.
In this sleeping position, you are on your back with your hands bent on the side of your head, with your legs apart. 7% of the population studied sleep in the starfish position. Just like the back position, if you are sleeping in this position, you are likely to experience acid reflux and snoring.
Experts Recommend: Keeping a pillow under your knees will help you keep the food in your stomach at its place.
Another common p.m. position is the log position where a person sleeps on his/her side with both the arms down. Sleeping in this position can help you reduce acid reflux and is also good for the spine. If you are a snorer, sleeping in the log position can help you get relief.
Experts Recommend: If you have had heartburn, sleep like a log on your left, sleeping on your right during such a situation can aggravate the heartburn.
In this position, one sleeps on their stomach with their hands tucked under the pillow. Freefall is the most comfortable position to sleep in for many people. A reality check for all those, it is the worst position to sleep for your health. This position can lead to a lot of health problems, say experts. It can lead to numbness and aches due to the pressure on the muscles while sleeping. It is also not an ideal position for your spine and can lead to neck and backaches. Keeping your head facing downward, towards the mattress can create breathing problems as well.
Experts Recommend: Take a soft pillow because a stiff one can put your neck in an unfavorable condition, causing pain.
Around 13% of people sleep in this position. It is where people sleep on their side with arms out in the front. Just like the fetus and log, this sleeping position, too, can have adverse effects on your health.
Experts Recommend: Sleep on your left with a pillow between the legs for support.
The Best Sleeping Positions for Various Health Conditions
There is no universal ideal sleeping position. Your health determines the best position you should sleep in. We have mentioned the most common health conditions with its right p.m. position. Let’s dig in deeper!
Best Sleeping Position During Pregnancy
When you are expecting, you might be struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position after a day full of mood swings and emotional imbalances. The discomfort you face to sleep during pregnancy can be due to many reasons, and an incorrect sleeping position can be one of them. So, which is the best sleeping position during pregnancy? Sleeping on the side is an ideal sleeping position when you are expecting. The best sleeping position during pregnancy is sleeping on your left side. Why is that so? Sleeping on your left side supports the optimal circulation of nutrients to your baby. Why is it not ideal to sleep on your back during pregnancy? The reason is when you lay flat on the back, your uterus and abdomen presses down and blocks the vein that carries blood from the lower body to your heart. Apart from this, you may also experience severe backache, breathing problems, and low blood pressure.
Sleep Positioning Tips by Experts
To help you get a comfortable sleep, here are some tips:
- For ease of breathing: Put a pillow on the side to lift your chest.
- For tummy and back support: Put a pillow between your knees and under your tummy. There is a special pregnancy pillow available out there to give you extra support.
- For heartburn: Keep your head a few inches up on a pile of hardcover books or blocks (something as hard as a block) to keep the acid down rather than running up your esophagus.
The doctor will advise you more on having a comfortable sleep during pregnancy. Do not worry if you move from the side to the front while sleeping; get as much sleep as possible during this time.
Sleeping Position and Sleep Apnea
Everybody has a comfortable position to sleep in, but it might not be the right one considering your health conditions. If you are a sleep apnea patient, then it is important to know the correct position to sleep. Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the upper airway relax, restricting the air either through the throat or nose. The blockage makes you stop breathing, forcing you to wake up n number of times in the middle of the night, affecting the quality of your sleep. Research suggests that sleeping on your side is the ideal position to sleep when you have sleep apnea. This is because the airways are open and less likely to restrict air, making you breathe comfortably. People with sleep apnea may initially not be comfortable sleeping on their side. They start with the side but gradually sleep on their back, making the condition worse. We have a solution for this. Using a memory foam pillow will hold your head in the right position, keeping your body aligned in the side position. So, if you are not able to hold the side position through the night, try changing your pillow.
Sleeping Position and Body Pain
Snoozing in the wrong position can be worst for your spine. It is better to keep the spine in its natural curve. Which sleeping positions give less stress to your back? The side and back are the best sleeping position if you are experiencing back pain. Keep a pillow under your knees if you are sleeping on your back or between the knees if on the side.
The sore hip is also a problem caused due to the unnatural curve for a long time. The best sleeping position, in this case, is also sleeping on the back. Do not take the hip pain lightly because if you do not sleep in the correct position, then the pain may get worse.
Do you wake up with a stiff neck? This might be because the position you are sleeping in is putting too much strain on your neck. Again, snoozing on your back is the ideal p.m. position, as that will give the least stress to your neck. If you feel a throbbing pain in your neck when you wake up, the problem might be in your neck or shoulders. Put in some time to analyze if you have knots on that part, if yes, then the pain has to do with the position your shoulders are while sleeping. The right position to get relief from shoulder pain is mentioned below.
Sleeping on your back might seem to be an ideal position in this case, too, but it is not. When you sleep on the front, the shoulders will not be in a stable position. Also, the kind of pillow you use may worsen the situation. Which is the best sleeping position then? Sleeping on the side opposite to your bad shoulder will help you get relief from the pain. To ensure you do not end up in the back position, keep a pillow in the underarms of the bad shoulder arm.
This might not be entirely due to the wrong sleeping position. Knee pain arises when your legs keep touching each other. To reduce the contact, keep a pillow in between, and you will soon get relief from knee pain.
Though uncommon, many people face jaw pain when they wake up. It is also known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction and happens when you put pressure on your jaw unintentionally while sleeping on the side or stomach. The best position to sleep in this case is on the back, as it will keep your cheeks away from the pillow.
Sleeping Position and Digestion
Are you having issues with digestion? Then sleeping in the appropriate position may help. Before we delve into the sleeping position, remember to avoid spicy and fatty foods 2 hours before sleep because it will reduce the work your digestive system has to do overnight while you lay flat. The best option to solve digestion problems is sleeping on your left side. This will help reduce heartburn and help the system with the digestive process. Keeping your head elevated a little can help improve the process.
Sleeping Position During Periods
Has your period ever kept you awake all night? If yes, we have a solution to reducing your period cramps. Sleeping in the correct position can help you reduce the pain and sleep peacefully. Experts have unanimously agreed that the fetal sleeping position is the best because the skeletal muscles around your abdomen relax, leading to less pain. Not just less pain, but dozing off in the fetal position has fewer chances of blood leaking out. Ensure you do not sleep in the freefall position because it squeezes your uterus, more blood flow, and increased chances of stains. Experts suggest that you indulge in some self-care (taking a warm bath or whatever defines self-care in your dictionary) before going to bed while menstruating to ease cramps.
Sleeping Position After a Heart Surgery
Heart surgery patients have often complained about not being able to sleep properly. There might be various reasons to keep you up at night, and an incorrect sleeping position can be one of them. In the initial stage, doctors recommend sleeping on your back. It is important to avoid as much tension on your heart and chest as possible after the surgery. Sleeping on your back will keep your spine and neck aligned. If you are finding it difficult to get in and out of bed, use a pillow during the transition. If you are having problems getting into the flat position, try sleeping on your right side. In general, sleeping on the left side is recommended, but people having undergone heart surgery may experience chest pain breathing issues.
Sleeping Position to Ease Flatulence
Do you often feel bloated and have tried all the solutions to get relief but unable to ease out? Sleeping in the right position with undertaking pre-sleep habits can help you release the gas from your stomach. Eat food two hours before you hit the bed and avoid spicy as well as fatty foods. These pre-sleep habits can help you ease bloating. Sleeping on your left side can help prevent heartburn and acid reflux with easing bloating. Also, lying flat on the stomach is helpful to release gases, though it may come with its cons. If you are not comfortable sleeping in the position above-mentioned, you can try lying on back with your head lifted. This will aid in the digestion process and help you get relief. In case you do not get any relief by sleeping in these positions, it is wise to see a doctor at the earliest.
Sleeping Position for Overweight People
Causes of obesity are many, and so are its complications. To your surprise, sleep deficiency plays an important role in weight gain. Sleep balances ghrelin and leptin hormones, the controller of hunger. When you don’t sleep, leptins drop-down, and ghrelin levels increase, making you crave food to produce energy. During this time, the brain does not have control over it, thus making you reach out to comfort food. Sleeping position is a vital aspect of your good health, and when you suffer from obesity, it matters even more. Sleeping flat on your back on a thin pillow is the right position to get enough sleep. If you have breathing problems or sleep apnea, sleep on the side.
Sleeping Position and Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is also known as heartburn/acidity, which does not involve the heart. It is the burning feeling that you feel in your chest due to acidity. The right snoozing position can help you reduce the burning feeling. Sleeping on your back is the best position, having your head and upper torso elevated. Make sure you do not pile pillows under your head because that will only worsen the situation. In case you are uncomfortable sleeping on your back, try sleeping on your left side. This will not allow the food in your stomach to enter the esophagus easily.
Sleeping Position and Wrinkles
Why people who sleep on the side age faster? The reason is sleeping on one side can cause pressure on the face, thus causes wrinkles. Sleeping on your back prevents wrinkles and acne because your face is not touching anything.
How to Train Yourself to Change Your Sleeping Position Habits?
We have discussed everything about the best sleeping position for better health, but how do you get the change. Here are some tips:
Evaluate your Bed
People often do not like to make changes to their bed and pillow even if that may be leading to forming a bad habit because you are set in a comfort zone. One way you can change your sleeping position is by evaluating if you can make any physical changes to your bed, like the mattress or the pillow. For instance, if you require more back support, then choosing a firm mattress is suggested.
Add Some Pillows
Adding a pillow under your head may not help. What we mean to say by this is understanding your needs and adding a pillow if required. For instance, if you have been asked by the doctor to sleep on your left side, but you are finding it difficult, then adding a pillow between can help. Additional pillow support can help get relief from the body pain you are experiencing. Extra support at the required places while sleeping can be helpful.
This may sound crazy, but being prepared for sleep is important for you to get a sound sleep. Give signals to your mind and body that you are going off to sleep now. In this way, you will be able to adapt to the new sleeping position. Read a book or take a warm shower so that you leave the tensions behind while sleeping. Also, ensure not to use your mobile or computer or even watch TV sometime before you sleep.
Maintain a Sleep Hygiene
Nothing works if not consistent! Bring the new sleeping position into a habit will help you get the right results and a pain-free body. Changing the sleeping position and being comfortable won’t happen overnight. Start your night with the right p.m. position and wake up pain-free.
Sleeping Position Frequently asked questions
What is the Right Way to Sleep?
Sleep isn’t something that you can master. Sleeping too little and too much both can lead to health problems. Most people are not aware that the position you sleep in is as essential as clocking the number of hours of sleep. The most comfortable position to sleep is on the side. Make a habit of sleeping on your left side because it has many health benefits like improved circulation in your body and does not give you any pain. If you already experience any pain, then keeping a pillow at the place and sleeping on the side can be helpful. For instance, keeping a pillow under your knees can help you give relief from back pain. Sleeping on the left side is safe and recommended during pregnancy.
What is the Healthiest Position to Sleep?
Experts suggest that while sleeping, keeping your neck, head, and spine in a neutral position is very important to not wake up with body pain. When you sleep on your back, they rest in the neutral position, and you are less likely to experience any pain. By far, sleeping facing the ceiling is the healthiest position.
Is it Better to Sleep on Your Left or Right Side?
Sleeping on your left side is beneficial, experts suggest. There is no study which shows sleeping on the right is bad for health, but the left side is better in many ways:
- When you sleep on your left side, there is an increase in blood flow to your heart.
- If you have acidity, sleeping on the left will help you get relief.
- It is also recommended and safe for a pregnant woman to sleep on her left to help blood flow and circulation to the baby.
- Sleeping on your left also helps in digestion.
Can you Sleep With Wet Hair?
The common myth about sleeping with wet hair is it will make you sick. The fact is, you catch a cold by a virus and not sleeping with wet hair. Sleeping with damp hair can lead to frizziness, flat sides, and breakage because your hair is the weakest when wet. If you have to snooze with wet hair, do not tie it in a bun or ponytail because that will cause more damage. Tie a loose braid or sleep with your hair down and swap your pillow cover with silk as it is less coarse.
Is it Bad to Wear a Bra to Bed?
I am busting another myth here. Wearing a bra to sleep is often linked with saggy breasts. The fact is breast sagging is inevitable, and the reason can be anything like drastic weight loss or gain, hereditary, feeding, smoking, etc. Wearing a bra to bed is inessential, but if you are comfortable, make sure you put on a lightweight non-underwired bra. Should you shower in the morning or at night? There is no universal rule on when you should shower. Some debate that it is good to shower in the morning while some bet for the night. Taking a shower in the morning makes you feel more energetic and ready to take the day. While bathing at night can help you clean your body and fall asleep faster. No matter when you take a shower, make sure the water is warm because steamy showers will make your skin dry.
Is it Bad to Sleep Without A Pillow?
Ditching the pillow depends on your sleeping position. If you sleep on your back or stomach, you will not face any problems without the pillow because your head neck and spine will be aligned. You shouldn’t be ditching the pillow when:
- Sleep on your side
- Acid reflux
- Shoulder pain
- Severe back pain
If you experience any pain, it is wise to consult a doctor than deciding yourself to go pillow-free while sleeping. Restful sleep is essential and is the pillar to healthy you. Often sleep is disturbed due to many issues and so finding a solution to the problems is significant. We hope you find your answers to the right sleeping position for better health.