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If you do even a small amount of research into how to find the best shape to take up when you drop off, you’ll realize there is a lot of conflicting advice about how different sleeping positions affect the quality of sleep. There are also some fascinating insights into how couples sleep when they share a bed and what your favorite position says about your personality … but we’ll save those insights for another day!
As with many things in life, what feels good is what does you good. Finding a comfortable sleeping position is no exception. There is no standard, either. Everyone is different. In fact, over time, you’ll probably try out several postures. What is comfortable for you also depends on your mattress, pillow, sheets, covers and blankets. And, of course, how much space you have to move around in.
Categorizing Sleep Positions
So how do sleep analysts describe the positions we sleep in? What are the benefits? Why elect for one or the other?
1. On your Back
From the point of view of posture, if all the world were a perfectly soft sleep surface, the best position to adopt would be to sleep on your back with no pillow. This would allow your spine to align perfectly and reduce the chances of waking up with stiffness in your back and neck.
But this position does not suit everybody. If you snore, this position will probably generate more noise due to the alignment of throat and nose. If you suffer from indigestion, you will probably want to raise your head and shoulders on to a pillow.
However, just imagine how smooth your complexion will be when you wake up each morning without spending the night with your skin pressed against the fabric of your pillow.
2. On your Side
Most people sleep on their side in some way, whether they are curled up in a fetal ball or stretched out like a log. It seems that most side-sleepers sleep on their left with their heart down slightly to improve blood circulation.
Doctors would recommend sleeping on your side if you are prone to snoring or if you are pregnant or significantly over weight or if you suffer from indigestion.
One thing you might experience in this position is numbness in your arms or shoulders from the additional pressure on muscles and nerves that you sometimes get from constant pressure on your arms or legs. Waking up to “Rubber arm” or “Pins and needles” can be disturbing.
Because much of the body weight is balanced on your shoulders, this position can sometimes lead to neck and shoulder problems as well. You may need to adjust pillows to combat this.
3. On your Stomach
This is probably the worst position to sleep in from the point of view of your physiognomy. It puts pressure onto the spine and shoulder/neck muscles which shouldn’t really be there. This is exacerbated if you use big fluffy pillows. Sleep analysts would encourage most people with this natural position to look to change their sleep position.
For snorers, however, this may be the best position to try as it can open up your air ways and lower volume!
Can you Control it?
However, can your conscious mind govern your body while you sleep, influencing its position? It’s usually determined by the physical shape and condition of your body and the configuration of your bedding. But you can make gradual changes, use pillow and covers to reinforce the change you want to try. If you have been advised by a doctor to use a specific position, then try to follow their advice.
The position that you find yourself waking up in each morning is probably the one which your body finds most natural – take a note of what your body is trying to tell you.