There is no substitute for a good night’s sleep, and anyone who has fallen into bed exhausted only to wake up feeling like a new person will know that sleep can be the key to well-being. People who sleep well enjoy improved mental and physical health and are less susceptible to serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
Even the most sleep-deprived among us still spend a considerable amount of time in bed, so it’s no surprise that everyone has their own preference when it comes to sleeping positions. From those who spread out to fill the space available to neat sleepers who occupy the very smallest spots, your sleeping position can reveal more about you than you might think.
One of the most common sleeping positions is on your side, with many people reporting that they prefer a ‘foetal’ position with their knees bent and arms curled in front of them. This position has lots of benefits for people at all stages of life, from children to expectant mothers and those suffering with aches and pains, particularly in their backs.
Side sleeping can not only be very comfortable, but it is also highly adaptable for a range of conditions. Lying on your side can improve digestion and reduce heartburn and many chronic snorers find that sleeping on their side is the key to keeping their night-time noise to a minimum.
Some people like to place a pillow between their knees to relieve the pressure on their joints, others like to hang an arm or leg out of the covers to maintain a comfortable body temperature. A supportive pillow is key to avoiding neck and shoulder stiffness among side sleepers and trying to maintain a relaxed position, rather than curling into a tight ball, can help keep you comfortable.
Sleeping on your back can be ideal for those who have joint pain as it allows you to align your spine and limbs evenly. This can relieve pain in those with hip, knee or spine problems, especially with carefully placed pillows to help maintain the natural curve of the spine.
While sleeping on your back can be very relaxing, it can also exacerbate problems such as sleep apnoea and snoring, as well as acid reflux. Sufferers of these conditions may find that back-sleeping can constrict their airway and counteract the gravity that your gastric system relies on. It can also worsen congestion caused by colds and flu.
Elevating the head, using pillows or specially designed foam wedges can improve these symptoms and encourage a more restful night, especially for anyone bedsharing with a noisy sleeper. Some people put bricks under the head end of their bed for a long-term solution to keep their head elevated.
Those who sleep on their front are among the least likely to snore, so there are some advantages to this sleeping position. However, it remains one of the least popular among adults, perhaps because of the issues front sleeping can cause.
Many front sleepers report that this position causes or worsens back and neck pain and those who suffer from aching joints often struggle to stay pain-free when sleeping in the prone position. Those who sleep on their fronts can benefit from choosing a firm mattress, such as those at Divan Bed Centre and supplementing their support with pillows under their lower abdomen.
Thin pillows, or even no pillow at all, can help front sleepers to avoid putting extra stress on their head and neck.
While we can’t always choose the position we sleep in, it is important to be aware of the impact your sleep position can have on your overall health and on certain specific conditions. Making sure you have enough support is vital, as it trying to ensure you have a good bedtime routine to maximise the sleep you do get.