What Is the best sleeping position?
Sleeping is a time the body relaxes, heals, and rejuvenates itself; however, most people tend to wake up with numerous ailments such as joint pains, back pains, headaches, numbness, weariness, and whatnot. Well, one major cause of these ailments is due to bad sleeping posture or bad sleeping positions, and when it happens over time; it can lead to more serious complications such as spinal problems, and rounded shoulders, among others.
Therefore, it is important that each night, we make a conscious effort to sleep in the right position to ensure that we enjoy the benefits of a good night's sleep. Well, there are three main sleep positions, and knowing the right position together with the proper sleeping posture can be a great way to improve your body's blood circulation, reduce the risk of injury, and improve your sleep quality. And in this post, we will walk you through all three of the most common sleep positions together with their pros and cons to help you know which one is ideal for you.
So, if this is what you came for, then let's dive right into it:
Best Sleeping Positions:
1. Sleeping on Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is considered the least popular sleeping position, with less than 10% of the population sleeping on their stomachs. Not only is it the least popular sleeping position, but it is also the worst sleeping position, as such it is recommended that you avoid this position as much as possible. That being said, there are certain tips you can employ to ensure that you have a proper posture and that you minimize the effects of sleeping on your stomach.
Tips to ensure proper sleep posture for stomach sleepers:
If you love sleeping on your stomach, there are certain things you can do to make it safer and cause less stress; some of which include:
- Use a medium to firm mattress: These types of mattresses will prevent your torso from sinking in when you lay on them, ensuring that your body maintains its natural curvature.
- Avoid Laying Your Head On Pillow: to ensure that your spine maintains its natural curvature, you must avoid using pillows if you find sleeping on your stomach comfortable. If you tend to find it difficult to avoid pillows, then we recommend you opt for a thin pillow.
- Use a Pillow: If you happen to use a thick pillow, then ensure to place another pillow underneath your pelvis, as recommended by HealthLine.com
Pros of sleeping on your stomach
The pros of sleeping on your stomach aren't much compared to its cons; however, one major benefit sleeping on the stomach offers is that it prevents snoring and sleep apnea.
Cons of sleeping on your stomach
- When you sleep on your stomach, you are going to have your face buried into the pillow, and since you might not be able to breathe properly if you bury your face into the pillow, you are forced to turn your head sideways to help you breathe properly throughout the night. Sadly, sleeping with your head sideways can put a lot of pressure on the neck. This is because you will have to twist your neck for prolonged hours throughout your sleep, putting a lot of pressure on your cervical spine.
- Secondly, sleeping on your stomach can cause spinal pain. This is because our body's center of gravity is situated around the abdomen; therefore, when you lie on your stomach and you do not get much support, the belly and hip region sink into the bed, and this causes the body to deviate from its normal curvature, leading to back pains.
- Finally, if you happen to use a pillow--which most people do-- while sleeping on your stomach, you will realize that your head is in an elevated position than your whole body. This causes the spine to again deviate from its natural curvature.
- Causes facial wrinkles: Laying on your stomach means your face is going to be pressed against your pillows for long hours, and upon waking up, this can cause wrinkles on your face. If your pillowcases/pillow covers happen to be dirty, then you can experience breakouts or acne.
Who is sleeping on the stomach?
This sleeping position is ideal for individuals who snore a lot in their sleep. However, it isn't ideal for pregnant women, older folks (50 and above), and kids below the age of 2; this is because sleeping on your stomach puts so much pressure on your abdominal cavity; hence if you are pregnant and you sleep on your stomach, there is going to be some force exerted on your baby, which isn't quite good for the development of the baby. Similarly, older folks and kids can develop spinal misalignment as discussed earlier, which can be bad for their health.
2. Sleeping on the back
The inverse of sleeping on your stomach is sleeping on your back, and this is the second most popular sleeping position, yet the most recommended position. The only time sleeping on your back becomes stressful to your body is when you sleep on a thick pillow without properly posturing your body; this can lead to neck pain. Also, even though this position is more inclined with your body's spinal posture as compared to sleeping on your stomach, it can lead to lower back pains if there isn't enough support as well. Therefore, when sleeping in this position, it is crucial to have the right support to minimize the occurrence of any discomfort and pain.
Tips to ensure proper sleep posture for back sleepers:
- Sleep on a medium-firm mattress since sleeping on your back means, you are going to have the heavy parts of your body such as your abdomen and pelvis area sink into the mattress's other areas, and when this happens, it can lead to your body's curvature being misaligned causing you to have lower back pains.
- Place your head on a neutral (medium loft pillow between 3 to 5 inches) pillow. Using pillows that are too high or too low can misalign your curvature as well. If you do not have a pillow, you can roll up a towel and place it underneath your neck to support the spine.
- Place a pillow underneath your knees and lower back. When sleeping on your back, these are the main pressure points that are most likely to sink into the mattress causing curvature misalignment. Therefore, putting pillows in these areas will help your back maintain its proper posture. That being said, the pillow you place under your knees can be the same as the pillow you place your head on; however, for your waist/lower back, you want to use a small flat pillow or a lumbar pillow for support.
Pros of sleeping on your back
The reason why sleeping on the back is recommended oversleeping on the stomach is because its pros outweigh that of sleeping on your stomach.
- It Prevents Creases and Wrinkles: Since you do not have your face pressed onto any surface (like your pillow or your mattress) for elongated periods, you will not have to worry about having facial wrinkles whenever you wake up from your sleep.
- It Keeps Your Spine Aligned: Our backs are more balanced than the anterior or our sides, as a result, when you lay on your back, your body's weight will be distributed evenly, causing your spine to be more aligned compared to laying on your side or your stomach.
- It Improves Breathing: Laying on your back makes breathing easier, this is because there isn't any pressure on your rib cages or internal organs, as a result, your lungs can function as they would normally do. Also, it drains the sinuses making breathing easier.
Cons of sleeping on your back
- Even though sleeping on your back helps you breathe better while you sleep, it can be a bad position for you if you happen to snore a lot or have sleep apnea. It exacerbates snoring and sleeps apnea since your tongue falls back and obstructs your airways; so as you breathe in and out, the air pushes against the tongue, causing you to snore.
- Sleeping on your back is also considered a position that can cause acid reflux in most people.
Who is sleeping on the back?
- If you have some sort of hip or shoulder pain, then sleeping on your back will be the most ideal position for you as opposed to sleeping on the side or your stomach.
- It is also a great position for pregnant women whose pregnancies are 5 months and younger. This is because at 5 months and above the fetus becomes heavier, so when you sleep on your back, the weight of the baby will fall on you leading to complications such as backache, and in serious cases affecting the amount of blood supplied to the baby.
- It is a great position for people with breathing issues such as asthma since it drains the sinuses and doesn't put pressure on the vital internal organs or obstruct blood flow.
- If you tend to have acne breakouts due to sleeping on a pillow, then you might want to try sleeping on your back to prevent your face from rubbing against the pillow.
3. Sleeping on Your Side
It is estimated that 74% of people sleep on their side, making it the most popular position. That being said, when it comes to sleeping on the side, it is recommended that you sleep on the left side as opposed to the right side, since the left is being proven to be more effective.
Tips to ensure correct sleep posture for side sleepers:
- Sleep on a medium soft-firm or a medium-firm mattress: The idea here is to have a mattress soft enough to absorb your pressure points while still providing enough support for your body.
- Again, ensure to lay on the left side of your body.
- Just like you will with sleeping on your back, you do not want to lay your head on a pillow that is too high or too low, since it can cause a crick in your neck. So, you want to get a medium-firm and medium-loft pillow to keep your head in the right position and prevent it from sinking.
- In addition, place a pillow or two in between your knees to elevate your leg area for more support and proper alignment with your spine.
Pros of sleeping on your side:
The pros of laying on your side are numerous; however, for you to fully enjoy all these pros, it is recommended that you lay on your left side due to the following benefits:
- Reduces Acid Reflux: Our stomachs are located on the left side of our tummy; therefore, when you lay on the left side, your stomach lays in its normal position, as opposed to being upside down, causing the gastric acids to overflow into the esophagus when you lay on your right side
- Prevents Snoring: Laying on the left side has also been proven to be very effective in preventing snoring. This is because when you sleep on your side, there is no pressure on your internal organs or rib cage, also, your tongue doesn't fall into your airways; therefore, you can breathe better and also avoid snoring.
- Helps with High Blood Pressure: The vena cava is a group of blood vessels that are located on the right side of the body, and they are mostly responsible for carrying blood to the heart. Therefore, when you sleep on the right side, you ease the vena cava off any pressure, which ensures that it performs optimally.
Cons of sleeping on your side:
- Might Experience Numbness: When you sleep on either side of your body, you might wake up feeling numb; this is because the weight of the body falls on the side you fall on, and this can compress the nerves around that region, causing your legs or hands to feel numb upon waking up.
- Can Cause Wrinkles: If you happen on one side, then it means one area of your face is going to press against the bed, just as it would when you
Who is sleeping on the side?
- Pregnant women are advised to sleep on their sides since it puts less pressure on them and the baby.
- Babies above 6 months can sleep on their sides as well.
- Sleeping on your stomach can have adverse effects; however, this position can be beneficial to snorers and individuals with sleep apnea.
- Sleeping on the back is highly recommended due to its immense benefits such as improving breathing, keeping your spine aligned, and preventing facial breakouts. However, if you are a snorer, you will need to avoid sleeping on your back.
- Sleeping on the side is the most popular sleeping position, and it is a great position for snorers, pregnant women, and babies above 6 months.
That being said, our most recommended positions are sleeping on your back and on your side; however, when choosing either position, it is crucial that you maintain a proper posture as recommended in their respective sections to ensure that you keep your spine aligned, and also have a comfortable sleep.
Also, even though we recommend that you choose certain mattresses based on their firmness, it is important to note that the firmness of the mattress you choose will depend on your weight; therefore, we recommend that you read our article on the various mattress to help you choose the best mattress for you based on your weight.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is there a better side to sleep on?
Yes, sleeping on the left side is proven to be more beneficial than sleeping on the right, and this is because it prevents acid reflux and ensures that the vena cava vessels aren't obstructed.
2. What's the best sleeping position during pregnancy?
Sleeping on the side is the most ideal position for pregnant women. However, pregnant women need to ensure that their knees are bent to minimize the pressure on the heart.
3. What is the correct way to sleep?
The correct way to sleep is to ensure that you have the right posture regardless of the sleeping position you find yourself in. That being said, sleeping on the back is the most recommended position. However, this position might not be ideal for all since it has its limitations.
4. At what age can babies sleep on their stomachs?
12 months and above is the ideal age at which babies can sleep on their stomachs. Above below 12 months may be at risk of SIDs if they lay on their stomach.
5. What position causes the most snoring?
Sleeping on the back exacerbates snoring. Sleeping on the stomach is an ideal sleeping position for individuals who snore a lot in their sleep.