About five years ago, I completely changed the way I sleep and although I’ve been falling asleep more easily, I think the way I am sleeping now is probably worse for my health and back. I was researching sleeping positions and thought it might make a good post. Here are the four main sleeping positions, from best to worst:
On your back:
This position is the best for your back as it helps your spine and neck keep a neutral position. Sleeping on your back may prevent neck and back pain, reduce acid reflux, and surprisingly, minimize wrinkles. You may be surprised by the fact that this can reduce acid reflux, but if your head is elevated, so will your esophagus, therefore preventing food coming back up from your stomach. Lastly, this position may help prevent wrinkles since nothing (pillow, mattress) is pushing against your face.
Unfortunately, this position induces snoring.
If you have back pain and sleep on your back, place a big billow under your knees to reduce the pressure on your lower back and sciatic nerve.
On your side:
Sleeping on your side also prevents neck and back pain and reduces acid reflux by keeping your spine elongated. It may also reduce snoring and be the best position for pregnant women (if sleeping on the left side), as it is ideal for blood flow.
This position may cause you to get wrinkles and sagging breasts.
To reduce back pain in this position, have a pillow tucked between your legs. This will take some stress off of your back.
In the fetal position:
This position allows you to snore less, and may be good for pregnant women.
On the other hand, this position is not ideal for back pain and will restrict diaphragmatic breathing. It may also contribute to wrinkles and sagging breasts.
Much like if you were sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your legs to alleviate back pressure.
On your stomach:
Although this would decrease snoring by keeping the airways more open, this position is horrible if you want to avoid neck and back pain, wrinkles, and sagging breasts. This position makes it difficult to maintain a neutral spine position and also puts pressure on joints and muscles.
Clearly, this is not the position to sleep in if you have back pain as this will exaggerate the arch at the base of your spine (Readers Digest). If you absolutely cannot sleep any other way, reduce the strain on your back by placing a pillow under your pelvis.
For more details and suggestions for the best pillows, check out this Health.com article.
Sleeping positions can also reveal a bit about your personality. Professor Idzikowski of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service analyzed six sleeping positions and determined their link to personality (BBC: Sleeping Position Gives Personality Clue).
Person is described as tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. Will be shy with they first meet someone but will quickly relax and open up.
Person is easy-going, social, and trusting of strangers. May be gullible.
Person has an open nature, but can be suspicious or cynical. Unlikely to change their mind once they have made a decision.
Person is generally quiet and reserved and will set themselves and others to high standards.
Person is gregarious and brash as well as thin-skinned. Will not like criticism or extreme situations.
Person is always ready to listen to others and help when needed. Will make a good friend but don’t like being the center of attention.