9 Sleeping Positions to Improve Your Health and Life
7 minute read
We all need sleep. We all love sleep and most of us feel like we can’t get enough. Not only is it important to get the right amount of restful sleep each night, but the position you sleep in matters, too. Believe it or not, the way you sleep can impact your health.
We focus daily on our diets, exercise and lifestyle choices as means of maintaining our health. What many of us fail to realize is that this effort could all be wasted by a bad sleeping position.
On average, a human sleeps approximately 25 years total throughout life. We learn that we need sleep as a means to restore the body and allow it to recharge from the day’s events.
The average adult requires between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. In reality, scientists are still not exactly sure why we need sleep. What we do know is that without sleep we are tired and we do not function as optimally as we can.
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Your sleeping position ultimately has the same effect on your health as a lack of sleep. There are a number of health problems and complications that can be caused or exacerbated by a poor sleeping position.
Sleeping in the wrong position can cause back pain and sinus infections, as well as impact blood pressure. Several recommended sleeping positions have been found to alleviate the top ailments caused by bad sleeping postures.
1. Back Pain
Your sleeping position will make a huge difference if you suffer from back pain. While it is important to sleep in whatever position works for you and actually helps you fall asleep, there are recommendations if you experience regular back ailments.
To help alleviate back pain, simply lie flat on your back and place a pillow under your knees. Additionally, you can place a small rolled-up towel or pillow under the curve of your back. With this particular support in place, your back is not strained and the spine lays in a more natural curve.
2. Shoulder Pain
Many of us have woken with sore shoulders after sleeping on our arm in the wrong position. Shoulder pain from daily activities can also be exacerbated several daily activities by the wrong sleep position.
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For a pain-free sleep, lay on your side with your legs slightly bent. You can also choose to place a pillow next to your chest and/or tuck a pillow between your knees for extra support.
A headache can either be relieved or aggravated by the sleeping position you choose. Most headaches that are caused from sleeping positions involve a twisted neck during sleep.
There is a great deal of weight placed on the neck muscles and nerves when you are completely rested, which can interfere with blood flow to your head, causing a headache. The best position to adopt is to lie on your back, surrounding your head with pillows to prevent rotating during sleep.
4. Neck Pain
Similar as with headaches, the wrong position can add pressure to your neck, creating unnecessary pain. Sleeping with additional neck support can help to alleviate symptoms.
One option is to use a small rolled-up towel, placed directly under your neck for added support. If you move a lot during sleep, try placing the towel inside the pillowcase to prevent it from moving around. A changed position of a pillow could place you in a less supportive posture, which could end up causing additional damage.
5. High Blood Pressure
Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with hypertension or high blood pressure in about half of OSA patients. Approximately one in three patients with hypertension also have OSA and growing research supports that treating OSA can reduce blood pressure.
Avoiding a supine sleep position has been shown to lessen OSA and thus, reducing blood pressure. Sleeping face-down may help with hypertension related to OA.
6. Sinus Troubles
Poor sleeping posture may cause sinus problems, as well as impede or promote healing from existing infections. Since mucus collects in the sinuses when the head is prone or lying flat, sleep with the head elevated. As long as your head is propped up with pillows throughout the night, the sinuses have a chance to clear.
7. Digestive Troubles
Whether you have eaten too much or regularly suffer from digestive problems, sleeping in a certain way can help ease symptoms for a comfortable and deep sleep.
According to research, sleeping to the left side helps digestion because the stomach is situated slightly to the left in the body. By sleeping to the left, gravity naturally assists with the digestive process.
Just as with digestive troubles, heartburn can make it very difficult to get to sleep. Sleeping on the left side can help to alleviate the irritation from heartburn. Gravity naturally helps the digestive system, moving the acid that causes heartburn away from the stomach. If you have trouble remembering which side you need to sleep on, keep in mind that ‘right is wrong’ and you will find comfort on the left side.
9. PMS Pains
Many women suffer severe PMS aches and pains, which can interfere with sleep, which only makes PMS symptoms worse in the morning.
To get a rested sleep and potentially relieve your PMS symptoms, sleep on your back and place a pillow under your knees. This keeps the spine from arching too much, which can cause unnecessary pressure in the hips and uterus.
The Bottom Line
As with any health condition, you should always consult with your doctor before starting any treatment. Whether you prefer alternative approaches or the medications have just not been working, changes in sleeping posture can help improve your health.
Everything's better with a good night’s sleep, so try a new position and catch up on those elusive z’s.
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