What's the Best Sleeping Position?
What's the Best Sleeping Position?
What better feeling is there than waking up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day? Restful sleep is associated with elevated mood, higher mental function, healthy blood flow, and an improved immune system, among other things.
There are many ways to achieve healthy, restorative sleep. This includes an impeccable bedtime routine, an ultra-comfortable bedroom environment, and good sleep habits.
But what about the way we sleep?
Our sleep posture, also known as our sleeping position, can significantly impact our sleep quality.
There are three prominent sleeping positions: back sleeping, side sleeping, and stomach sleeping. Small variations within these main sleep positions can also affect our sleep quality.
Some people change sleep positions frequently at night, while others barely move a muscle during the night. Your preferred sleeping position may depend on your age, your life experiences, your body, and any sleeping conditions you may have.
Sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your back is also known as the supine position. When you sleep on your back, you sleep with your head on your pillow and your face pointing toward the ceiling.
There are two common back sleeping positions:
Soldier position. In the soldier sleeping position, the sleeper sleeps on their back with their arms straight down by their side, similar in appearance to a toy soldier.
Starfish position. In the starfish sleeping position, the sleeper has their hands spread out above their head instead of having their hands by their side.
Reasons to sleep on your back
Sleeping on your back is considered one of the best sleeping positions for keeping your spine correctly aligned during sleep.
Those suffering from neck, shoulder, back, or joint pain may find that back sleeping helps eliminate their symptoms.
Back sleeping is an excellent option for those that experience frequent tension headaches, as the position of your head and neck while you sleep can help relieve tension.
The supine sleep position may also benefit those with GERD or acid reflux—as long as they sleep with an elevated head.
Finally, back sleeping is the best position for those concerned about their facial skin. Since your face does not contact the pillow in a back sleeping position, sleepers are less likely to experience acne or sleep wrinkles.
Cons to sleeping on your back
Back sleeping is not suitable for everyone. Some medical and sleep conditions can become worse by taking up a back sleeping position.
Back sleeping can worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea. Research indicates that the supine sleeping position increases the severity of OSA symptoms in more than half of people with the condition.
Back sleeping can increase symptoms of acid reflux and GERD. Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition when acid from your stomach consistently flows back into your esophagus. Symptoms of GERD are often worse in the lying down position.
In a back sleeping position, it’s easier for acid to make its way from the stomach to your esophagus. Additionally, due to the nature of lying flat on your back, the bile remains in the esophagus for longer. Elevating your head in the back sleeping position can help reduce the likelihood that this will happen; however, opting for a different position may be the best option.
Additionally, back sleeping is not suitable for pregnant mothers. During pregnancy, the weight of your stomach and uterus increases. When sleeping on your back, this weight can push down major blood vessels, potentially disrupting blood flow to your growing baby.
Back sleeping can also aggravate snoring. Snoring is caused by the vibration of air moving past your relaxed tongue and soft palette. When in a supine sleeping position, gravity is working against you, causing your tongue and soft palette to press further back, potentially narrowing the airways and creating a higher likelihood of loud snoring.
Sleeping on your stomach
Stomach sleeping may also be referred to as the prone position. Sleeping on your stomach is the least recommended position for sleep, although depending on individual circumstances, there may be a few cases in which it is beneficial.
Reasons to sleep on your stomach
While a stomach sleeping position is often considered the least desirable sleep position, in some rare cases, it may be the best choice.
If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, sleeping on your stomach may be the best sleeping position for comfortable breathing.
Cons of stomach sleeping
Due to how our bodies get contorted while sleeping on our stomachs, opting for this sleeping position can put unnecessary pressure on joints and muscles.
In a stomach sleep position, our necks are often jammed to the side, leading to stiffness, strain, or even numbness.
Stomach sleeping is the least recommend sleeping position for a healthy spine.
Sleeping on your side
Side sleeping is sometimes called the lateral position. It is the most common sleeping position.
Variations of a side sleeping position
Fetal position. In this sleep position, the sleeper sleeps curled up in a ball with their knees to their chest, like a baby.
Yearner position. In this sleep position, the sleeper sleeps on their side, their arms stretched out in front of them.
Log position. In the log position, side sleepers sleep with their hands by their side, similar to a log.
Reasons to sleep on your side
Side sleeping is an excellent option for those that experience snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. This is because a sleeper’s airways are the most open in a side sleeping position.
Those suffering from GERD will also find side sleeping beneficial to reducing symptoms, especially if they sleep on their left side.
It is also possible to obtain good spinal alignment in a side sleeping position, especially with the use of pillows.
Cons of side sleeping
One of the biggest downsides to side sleeping is that it can cause sleep wrinkles or acne on your face due to prolonged contact of your face with your pillow.
Additionally, sleeping on a mattress that is not supportive enough can lead to shoulder and hip pain for habitual side sleepers.
Other things to consider
Sleeping with extra pillows
Integrating additional pillows is a great way to improve your sleep quality, no matter your sleep position.
Wedging an extra bed pillow under your head, neck, lower back, or knees can help align your spine and reduce pain.
Investing in a body pillow is also a great option for improving your sleep posture, no matter the position you choose.
Having proper bedding is an essential part of a good night’s sleep. This extends to your mattress.
Make sure your mattress is the correct firmness for your anatomy and sleeping preferences.
Mattress pads or mattress toppers are an easy investment to ensure you sleep on a comfortable surface. They are easy to remove, exchange, and wash without buying an entirely new, expensive mattress.
General sleep hygiene
One of the keys to a good night’s sleep is taking care of your sleep hygiene. No matter which is your preferred sleep position, having a comfortable sleeping environment and a consistent sleep routine are essential steps to restorative sleep.
Evidence supports claims about which sleeping positions are better for healthy sleep. The most important thing is that each individual listens to their body and their doctor.
Health and sleep disorders
If you have a health disorder that affects your sleep, such as GERD or OSA, you may need to be extra conscientious about your sleep position.
The best sleeping position for acid reflux
Research indicates that a side sleeping position, specifically on the left side, is the best sleep position for those suffering from acid reflux or GERD.
The best sleeping position for sleep apnea
A side sleeping position is the best sleep position for those with obstructive sleep apnea. While sleeping on your side, your mouth and throat are in a position less likely to block your airways.
Studies show that right-side sleeping is one of the best sleeping positions for OSA patients.
Back, neck, or shoulder pain
Back pain can be difficult to manage, especially when it comes to getting quality sleep.
Aligning your spine correctly while you sleep is key. No matter your sleep position, take extra care to sleep with a neutral spine, with your ears, shoulders, and hips all in proper alignment.
Place pillows in any gaps between your body and your bed to help relieve pressure on your joints and spine.
The best sleeping position for neck pain
Keeping healthy spinal alignment with the head and spine in neutral position is the key to avoiding neck pain during sleep. This can be achieved in back sleeping positions and side sleeping positions.
Utilizing pillows is the best way to keep your head, neck, and spine in alignment.
Back sleepers can help relieve neck pain by placing their hands at their side or on their chest, activating the upper back and neck muscles, and helping move the body into proper spine alignment.
Getting a good night’s sleep while pregnant can be quite a challenge. Between a large, uncomfortable belly, and multiple pee breaks, every step you can take to get restful sleep is essential for you and your baby.
Side sleeping is the most comfortable option for pregnancy (stomach sleeping is impossible, and back sleeping can cause unwanted side effects on your blood flow during sleep). Most experts recommend sleeping on your left side while you are pregnant.
The best sleep position is the one that works for you and your body. You can have a restful, restorative sleep with high-quality bedding, ready to take on the day.
Mellanni has you covered, with the following items from our collection:
Our Premium Body Pillow is ideal for side, back, and stomach sleepers. A body pillow is a great accessory for comfortable sleep, perfect for snuggling, resting your head, or propping between your knees.
Ensure your head and neck are properly supported with our soft but firm Premium Bed Pillows. Keep that spine aligned!
Soft, well-crafted sheets are essential for a restful and cozy sleep. Check out our various sheet sets to find the best option for you.
If you need to upgrade your mattress quickly and economically, opt for our Microplush Mattress Pad, which provides extra soft support and is easy to care for.