It’s that time of the day again. After a long day at work, you can finally retire and get that good night’s sleep you need. But did you know that it’s not enough for you to lie down however you choose to get that good rest? Studies have shown, after all, that sleep position affects the quality of sleep you get.
- Side-Sleeping Generally Improves Oxygen Levels at Night
Side-sleeping is the most common position among people, with the National Sleep Foundation saying that more than 41 percent sleep on their side. There are two main side-sleeping positions:
- Fetal: In this position, sleepers draw their knees up to their chests.
- Log: In this position, sleepers lay straight and flat on their side.
Side-sleepers can also be either one (or both) of these types:
- Right-Side Sleeper: In this position, the right side of the sleeper’s body is what’s in contact with the bed.
- Left-Side Sleeper: In this position, the left side of the sleeper’s body is what’s in contact with the bed.
Generally, when people sleep on their side, their oxygen level intake at night is more improved than when they are lying on their backs. This is because when people are on their backs, their throats may experience blockage as their tongues are pushed back. Gravity also pushes down all the excess weight of the stomach towards the diaphragm, which results in shallow breathing on the part of the sleeper. When this happens, at worst, an event related to sleep apnea, or a complete airway collapse, may occur, which can then disrupt sleep.
This is not to say, however, that any of the side-sleeping positions will do for a person to sleep soundly. For instance, the log position is preferred to the fetal position, as this can make it hard for the sleeper to breathe because of the resulting diaphragm compression. Left-side sleeping is also preferred to right-side sleeping because at this position, heartburn is reduced.
It is also good to get the best mattress for side sleepers, which should help relieve pressure points and allow for the equal distribution of weight in all parts of the sleeper’s skin in contact with the bed.
- Back Sleeping Is Comfortable, But Enhances Sleep Apnea
Back sleeping is typically called the “ideal” position for those seeking overall comfort and maybe a literal beauty rest due to several reasons:
- It is good for the spine: This is because the spine is not contorted in any way at this position
- It is great for the neck: This is because the neck is positioned in a neutral position when people sleep on their backs
- It helps prevent wrinkles: This is because the people’s faces are not in contact with anything that can cause wrinkles, such as pillows
Unfortunately, there is a big con to sleeping on one’s back. Back sleeping causes the tongue to be pushed back, and all the excess stomach weight of the person to be pushed down on the diaphragm. This results in less space in the throat for air to flow, which can lead to a sleep apnea event or snoring. When this happens, sleep is disrupted, either upon the sleepers’ recognition of the sounds they are making, or once the sleepers are awoken by their companion on the bed or in the room.
It may also not be a good idea for pregnant women to lie on their back since this may only cause more discomfort than comfort.
Generally, though, back sleeping has its benefits and these may be enhanced with the proper mattress and pillows. The mattress, for instance, should help the body stay flat. The pillows, on the other hand, should provide support to the most crucial parts of the body, such as the neck.
- Stomach Sleeping Helps Ease Snoring
Many people still sleep on their stomachs, although most experts agree it only has one benefit: to ease sleep apnea or snoring.
Other than that, it is a recognized fact that sleeping on one’s stomach has more cons than pros. Here are some of those cons:
- It strains the spine: When people sleep on their stomachs, much of their weight is in the middle, which puts a strain on the vertebral column.
- It strains the neck: Since people haven’t learnt how to breathe through pillows or mattresses (if there is no pillow), the natural position of the neck when people are on their stomachs is looking left or right. This means the neck is in a contorted position for the duration of the sleep. With frequent neck contortions, a herniated disk can result.
When the neck and the spine are strained, the result is pain in the body, which means there are more chances of waking up in the middle of the night. People who sleep on their stomachs will therefore feel less rested once they wake up in the morning. Pregnant women should also all the more beware of this position, as this may cause problems for the child in the long run.
Those who are used to sleeping in this position can follow these tips to improve their sleep:
- Don’t use a pillow or use a thin pillow. Using a thick pillow will only put a strain on the spine and the neck since they will be in even more contorted positions.
- Place a pillow under the pelvis: The pillow will relieve the pressure in the spine and the back.
- Stretch: Since the body is not in the most ideal position, it’s best to stretch the muscles to prevent back pain in the morning after waking up.
Your sleeping position is as crucial an element as the bed or the mattress to a good night’s sleep. This is because the position people adopt when resting determines whether or not they will sleep for a long period of time, or wake up several times because of their own snoring or pain in the body. Ultimately, it is up to each person to decide which position fits him or her. That decision will depend on that person’s priorities and what one aims to achieve with every good night’s rest.