When bedtime rolls around, you’re anxious to turn out the light and get to sleep. You assume a comfortable position and slowly drift off to sleep.
But do you wake up with back aches? Do others complain of you snoring? These factors could be altered by simply changing your sleeping position.
In order to get a good night sleep, take a look at the way you decide to doze off.
“It is best to sleep in a position that maintains normal curves of the back,” said Scott & White nurse practitioner Kimberly English, MSN, RN, FNP.
English sees patients with a number of conditions, especially those with sleep conditions. The Scott & White Sleep Institute has developed a program to assist patients who need help getting a better night’s rest.
Which way do you sleep?
We typically fall asleep in the way that feels normal to our body. If your mother put you to sleep on your stomach as a small child, you may find that you prefer to be on your tummy even as an adult. However, what is comfortable for you may not be the best for your overall health.
Here are a few sleeping positions and their effect on your body during those dreamy hours:
- Back position
If you sleep on your back, there’s good news for you. This is the best position for keeping with the normal curves of your back. As you lie on your back it makes it easy for your head, neck and spine to maintain a neutral position. You may also consider putting a small pillow underneath your knees for added comfort.
“Use a pillow with a size and thickness that keeps the neck in a normal position,” English said.
Good for: Preventing back pain, wrinkles, sagging breasts and fighting acid reflux.
Bad for: Snoring.
- Side position
The next best position is to sleep on your side. If this is most comfortable to you, you can help align your spine by putting a pillow between your legs. Avoid crouching into a fetal position as this extreme curl puts strain on your body. Also keep in mind that if you tuck your arm behind your pillow, you might wake up with a numb arm. Instead, use a thick pillow to fill the space above your head and neck.
Good for: Reducing snoring, comfort when pregnant, preventing neck and back pain.
Bad for: Your skin and your breasts, as your face is smashed against a pillow and your breast ligaments are stretching downward.
- Stomach position
Sleeping on your stomach can be bad for your neck and back. Over time you can try to transition to a side sleep position, but if you can’t sleep any other way use a pillow wisely. Position the pillow under your pelvis and lower stomach. As for your head, use a very thin pillow or not one at all. When you sleep on your stomach it forces you to turn your head to one side and this puts strain on your neck.
Good for: Reducing snoring.
Bad for: Your neck, back, breasts and skin.
No matter which way you sleep, make sure you are getting enough of it. English recommends a regular sleep and wake schedule.
“Loss of sleep can lead to difficulty with memory, impaired performance, daytime drowsiness and mood changes,” English said.