A Guide to How Your Sleeping Position Affects Your Health
Whether you sleep on memory foam or an organic mattress, whether you sleep alone or with a partner, your sleep position plays a vital role in determining the quality of your slumber.
But did you know that it can also affect your overall health?
We sleep in various positions, including on our stomach, side and back. But there’s one dominant pose – generally the one in which we wake up – that’s considered our sleeping position. It affects everything, from our brain to our gut. In fact, it’s significant to how our bodies eliminate waste and fight pain.
Read this post to learn how your sleeping position can affect your well-being.
Different Sleep Positions (and How They Affect Our Health)
Your sleeping position matters to your health. That’s why it’s important to reassess what happens to your body after you turn out the light. Here’s a guide to help you understand how your sleep posture can influence your welfare.
Side sleeping is one of the most common sleeping positions. Generally, side sleepers lean toward fetal or logging, but both postures aid in relaxation. That said, it’s a great position to avoid neck and back pain. However, if you sleep on your side and still experience this type of pain, try changing your pillow. A buckwheat pillow is a comfortable alternative to traditional pillows as it helps keep your head and shoulders aligned with your spine. Let’s look at the effects of side sleeping in detail to understand how it influences health.
Pros of Side Sleeping
- Left-side sleeping helps people with acid reflux. Gravity works in your favour as your stomach is positioned below your esophagus. So, if you lie on your left side, the stomach and its gastric juices remain lower than the esophagus during sleep.
- It aids digestion as the small intestine transfers waste to the large intestine through the ileocecal valve in your lower right abdomen. So, when you sleep on your side, there’s no obstruction in the valve and the waste in transferred more easily, thus aiding in bowel movement.
- When you sleep on your side, your brain’s glymphatic system clears waste more effectively than in other positions. This is an important part of your brain function to guard against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia, by flushing out toxins and harmful proteins.
- Switching to a side sleeping position (either left or right) can reduce symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea. This is because it keeps your tongue from falling into your throat and obstructing your airway.
Cons of Side Sleeping
- Sleeping on one side for the entire night can cause pain in other areas, like arms and shoulders.
- It can lead to discomfort in your jaw as putting pressure on it during sleep can leave it sore in the morning.
Sleeping on your back keeps your spine aligned. This is especially true if you have a pillow that conforms to your head and prevents your chin from tilting too far down in your chest.
This sleep posture also takes the pressure off your shoulders and jaw, thus keeping your body in a resting position. If you’re injured, back sleeping can lessen compression and pain. Let’s look at its advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of Back Sleeping
- Like side sleeping, back sleeping is also a great position to get rid of acid reflux. As your stomach is lower than your esophagus, it prevents food and stomach fluids from crawling up your digestive tract during sleep.
- It puts less pressure on your internal organs as your body is in a straight line and none of them are pressed or stretched.
- When you sleep on your back, you’re not crunching your face into the pillow which creates lines that can turn into wrinkles. So, back sleepers should be less worried about these signs of aging.
Cons of Back Sleeping
- People who snore or have obstructive sleep apnea can aggravate their symptoms by sleeping on their back as it puts their tongue into a position that can block their airways.
- Sleeping supine can lead to lower back pain in some people as your upper body remains aligned whereas your lower body is likely to sink and arch your lower spine. Putting a pillow beneath your knees can help maintain your body’s curve. It’s advisable to buy an organic mattress with firm support that can contour to your body.
Sleeping on your belly is the worst sleeping position. Stomach sleeping can lead to several health issues, as much of your body weight is centred here.
Let’s discuss its pros and cons.
Pros of Stomach Sleeping
- In some cases, stomach sleeping can ease snoring and sleep apnea symptoms as your airways are more open if you sleep face down.
Cons of Stomach Sleeping
- It strains your spine in the wrong direction, thus causing neck and back pain. This happens because the majority of your body weight is around your middle and sleeping on your belly pushes your core further into the mattress, thus pushing your spine out of alignment.
- This sleep posture puts pressure on your muscles, joints and organs, especially if you’re overweight.
- When pressure builds up on muscles and joints, you spend more time shifting positions, trying to stay comfortable. This leads to disturbed, lower quality sleep.
Whether it’s on your side, back or stomach, the best sleep position is the one that helps you fall asleep. But you can’t deny each one’s effects on your overall well-being. That’s why it’s important to adjust your sleep posture with the help of comfortable pillows and an organic mattress. In this way, your body’s alignment isn’t disturbed and you get a good night’s sleep.