Best Sleeping Positions to Get Your Beauty Rest and Conquer the Day
We spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping. Sleeping is arguably the most critical part of our day; however, most people fail to recognize its importance. According to the Sleep Foundation, only 1 in 10 Americans prioritizes sleep over work, fitness, social life, and other hobbies. That staggering statistic may be a reason why 40% of Americans are sleep deprived, and 68% of Americans struggle to sleep once a week. On top of it all, finding the best sleeping positions to stay comfortable often keeps you from staying asleep and getting the rest you need.
- The best sleeping position for you is dependent on your health
- Side sleeping is the #1 recommended position
- Extra pillows take sleep positions to a whole other level
Numerous factors control our ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and achieve quality sleep, including but not limited to sleep disorders, stress levels, sleep schedules, and sleeping positions. Most people do not think about how they sleep but believe it or not; sleeping positions profoundly impact our health and ability to achieve quality sleep.
While we sleep, our brain and body work hard to recharge. Our brains detox waste and store new information, nerves communicate and reorganize, and the body repairs cells, stores energy, and releases hormones and proteins. As a result, we wake up feeling more energized, have a stronger immune system, and can accomplish more in our day.
Why Are Sleeping Positions So Important?
Stomach, back, and side sleeping all place pressure on different parts of our body, affecting the brain’s detox system, blood circulation, spine alignment, and digestive function. Sleeping positions are not one size fits all. However, the effects of improper sleeping positions are relatively standard.
Poor sleeping positions prohibit the body from fulfilling its regenerative duties to the best of its ability. The positions may also be uncomfortable and strenuous on the body through the night. As a result, sleep quality is reduced, and people can experience aches and body pains that can last multiple days. Moreover, the reduction in sleep quality creates a domino effect leading to fatigue, irritability, weakened immune systems, poor concentration, poor memory, and poor motor function. Other long-term effects of poor sleep quality include high blood pressure, weight gain, chronic disease, and in severe cases, increased risk of early death.
Discovering the Best Sleeping Positions For You
Discovering the best sleeping positions for you is crucial to building healthy sleeping habits. Proper sleeping positions will also enable you to reap the benefits of a quality night’s sleep.
Like I said, sleeping positions are not one size fits all. For example, pregnant women benefit from different sleeping positions than individuals with nasal congestion. Your best sleeping positions depend on your individual health goals and situation. It is important to consider age, back pain, neck pain, acid reflux, heartburn, digestion, sleep apnea, snoring, congestion, pregnancy, and wrinkles while searching for your best sleeping position.
By this point, you’re probably wondering, what are the best sleeping positions? How can I improve the way I sleep to promote better health and catch more quality zzzs? The answer is by discovery through trial and error. Narrow down your health needs and try new positions! Tuning into how your body feels while falling asleep and after you wake up will help you discover your personal best sleeping positions.
Side vs. Back. vs. Stomach
The three prominent sleeping positions are the side, back, and stomach. We are all mostly combination sleepers and prefer two of the three prominent sleeping positions. Side and back sleeping has been proven to be more beneficial than stomach sleeping, but each position has its benefits.
1. Side Sleeping
- Most popular sleeping position
- #1 Recommended position by physicians and sleep specialists
- Opens airways, promotes healthy spinal alignment, and lifts the esophagus
- More effectively rids of brain detox waste
- Best sleep position for back pain and pregnancy
- Helps with GERD, acid reflux, heartburn
- Prevents snoring and sleep apnea
- Opting for the left side alleviates pressure off internal organs; it is recommended for pregnant women and those with GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn.
- Fetal side sleepers can suffer from joint pain and arthritis
- Can trigger or worsen shoulder pain
- Can cause wrinkles
2. Back Sleeping
- Second most popular sleeping position
- Promotes natural positioning of the spine and even distribution of weight
- Best sleeping position for neck pain
- Back sleeping in an upright position is best for those with nasal congestion.
- Can help or exacerbate back pain- dependent on the person
- Not recommended for pregnant women, especially those in their 3rd trimester
- Worsens sleep apnea and snoring
- Reduces wrinkling
3. Stomach Sleeping
- Least recommended sleeping position
- Prevents snoring and sleep apnea
- Causes body aches, neck and back pain
- Creates excess pressure on the rib cage, thus requiring more energy to breathe
- Displaces spinal posture
- Places excess pressure on muscles and joints
- Can cause wrinkles
Pillows and Mattresses Matter Too
Sleeping positions aren’t everything when it comes to sleep, but they are pretty dang important. The only thing more important is pillows and mattresses. Pillows and mattresses set the foundation for sleep positions and can even make them better. Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillow is investing in yourself and your health. Not to mention, splurging on extra pillows that compliment your sleeping position will take your sleep to a whole other level.
Pillows help promote proper spine alignment and prevent aches. Side sleepers benefit from a firm pillow between their knees to keep the spine aligned and alleviate the stress placed on the hips and back. Side sleepers may also benefit from a small pillow placed under their waist for extra spine support. Back sleeps benefit from a small pillow under the back of their knees to alleviate stress on the spine and promote natural curvature of the spine. Lastly, stomach sleepers benefit from a pillow placed under their stomach around their pelvis to support proper spine alignment. Stomach sleepers should sleep with a flat pillow for their head or no pillow at all.
All in all, focusing on your sleep position and building healthy sleeping habits is critical for short-term and long-term health. There is no one size fits all sleeping position, so discovering what is best for you and your health may take time. But do not give up! It will be worth it when you finally get the beauty rest you deserve and conquer the day like you never have before.
Written by Lauren Conklin