The average American spends 6.8 hours sleeping every night, but many experts say that we should all aim for closer to 8 hours or more. Sleep is really important for our bodies to repair and recover after the day, but if you spend a prolonged amount of time sleeping in one position you could actually start having a negative effect on your body’s overall health. By changing the way you sleep, you might be able to start treating many health issues at their root cause.
So is the way you’re sleeping damaging your health? Could you resolve deep-seated health issues simply by altering how you sleep?
Front, back, or side?
There’s a range of things that might bother you throughout the day that you would never think were caused by the way you sleep, but if you continue to go to bed and sleep in the same position night after night, you could actually be making the problem worse. Take a look at the compilation of common problems associated with bad sleeping positions, and see how you can resolve them by trying to sleep in a new way.
Don’t be disheartened if this doesn’t happen overnight, you might wake up in your usual position for the first few nights, but over time as you get used to a new sleeping position, you will start to notice how great you feel during the day.
If you experience a lot of back pain, try sleeping on your back. This position is fantastic for your spine and neck health because you’re not forcing your spine into any strange positions. This is especially the case if you don’t use any pillows, as this actually allows your neck to remain in a neutral position.
You might experience this a lot if you are a common side-sleeper. By lying in this one position for the whole night, you actually end up crushing your arm which can be very uncomfortable and lead to aches and pains the following day.
If you end up tucking an arm behind your head, you can restrict blood flow and get painful pins and needles, and you should avoid placing your arms above your head as much as possible as this also leads to numbness.
Try sleeping on your back, or hugging onto a pillow as you side-sleep to resolve the issue.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
In a side sleep position, your shoulder ends up supporting a lot of your body weight, causing muscles located there and in the neck to become constricted. This is down to what is known as “postural immobility” which can cause and prolong neck and shoulder pains.
By switching between sides through the night, you can help ease some of this, and make sure you have the right amount of pillows under your head to make your spine as straight as possible.
Lying on your back is the best way to avoid developing wrinkles as your sleep (yes, this happens and yes, it’s a pain!) By leaving your face exposed to the air, you avoid crushing it into your pillow, which has been linked to the development crow’s feet and lines around the mouth.
This position also helps you avoid acne which can develop on your skin if your face is pressed into the same pillow night after night!
Acid reflux and Heartburn
Sleeping on your left side will help ease this and make falling asleep a much quicker task. There are various studies that suggest different reasons for this, including that left-side sleeping keeps the junction between stomach acid and the oesophagus above the level of stomach acid as opposed to right-side sleeping.
You could also try slightly raising the mattress at the head-end so gravity is on your side, and works to keep stomach acid down.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
If you’re a snorer this might be down to sleeping on your back. This sleeping position causes the base of the tongue to fall into the airway (thanks to gravity) which causes you to snore and potentially even suffer from sleep apnea!
Try sleeping on your side and the rest of the house will probably thank you!
Doctors recommend sleeping on your left side if you’re pregnant. Not only does this improve circulation to the heart, benefiting both mom and baby, but it also avoids putting pressure on the lower back which would happen if you were to sleep on your back.
Should I ever sleep on my stomach?
This is the one position that should always avoid sleeping in. Not only will it flatten the natural curve of your spine, leading to back pain, but it also puts a lot of strain on your neck because you have to twist your spine to rest your head on the pillow.
Get your chamomile tea ready, breathe deep, and snuggle into bed with this newfound knowledge. You might just change the way you sleep forever and send back pain and wrinkles to sleep forever.