It’s well known that sleep is an incredibly important part of daily life, helping us to recover from the day before to be ready for the day to come. And when we’re not sleeping well it can impact many other facets of our life. So, if you’re struggling with sleep, can something as simple as the position you lie in help to improve it?
Types of positions
There are pros and cons to all sleeping positions but let’s take a look at some of the most popular:
- Back – Often considered the best position, sleeping flat on your back can protect your spine and help reduce hip and knee pain. It can, however, worsen snoring and sleep apnoea.
- Foetal – This is one of the most popular sleeping positions and involves lying on your side with your legs folded close to your chest. It can be good for lower back pain and reducing snoring but could also limit deep breathing while you sleep and may even worsen joint pain and stiffness if you don’t relax your body.
- Side – This differs from the foetal position in that your legs aren’t bent up towards your body. It can reduce snoring and can even be good for digestion and reducing heartburn but can also lead to stiff shoulders and a tight jaw on the side you lie on.
- Stomach – This position involves lying front down on your stomach and can help reduce snoring and sleep apnoea. The downsides of this one can be significant, though, as it can result in back and neck pain.
What’s best for you?
While some positions may be better than others, it’s very much dependent on the individual. If you find that sleeping on your stomach is best for you, then nothing should stop you from doing so. If you’re struggling to work out which position is best, consider keeping a sleep diary for a few weeks as you test different positions. After each night, note down how difficult it was to get to sleep and how rested you felt in the morning.
Some common health issues that people face may also be mitigated by changing up their sleeping position:
- Back or neck pain – Sleeping on your back may help alleviate lower-back and neck pain, but this can depend on the individual and it could even make neck pain worse.
- Snoring or sleep apnoea – Side or stomach sleeping can help airways stay open to reduce snoring and mild apnoea.
- Reflux or heartburn – Interestingly, sleeping on your right side could actually make reflux and heartburn worse, so switching over to the left side could help reduce these conditions.
Your mattress and choice and position of pillows can also play a significant role in your comfort, so be sure to consider this when testing out different positions. It may also take some time for the positive effects to show themselves, so don’t give up after just one night unless it’s doing more harm than good.
If you’ve been struggling with your sleep, whether it’s difficult to fall asleep or you’re not feeling well rested in the morning, it’s always best to see a doctor to get tailored advice for your specific circumstances. Other factors in your sleep environment or nighttime routine may also play a role in your sleep quality, to learn more, check out our blog Time for Bed.