Whether you know it or not, your body moves many times during the night. You might fall asleep on your back and wake up the next morning on your stomach. It happens. Your body, while you’re semi-conscious (you probably won’t remember it), will try to make itself comfortable.
Although your body is trying to make itself comfortable, that might not be the best thing for you overall. Let’s take a look at some sleep positions, from best to worst.
1. On your back – Did you know that only eight percent of people sleep on their backs? While it’s definitely not the most popular, it is the healthiest way to sleep. Sleeping on your back allows your head, neck, and spine to line up in a neutral position, which means no pressure on those areas. This leads to the likelihood of back and neck pain being extremely low. Sleeping on your back also helps ward off acid reflux. However, sleeping in this position can cause your tongue to block the breathing tube. For people with uncontrolled sleep apnea (those without a CPAP or BiPAP machine), this can be especially dangerous. This position could also make snoring more severe.
2. On your side – Around 15 percent of people sleep in this position, where the torso and legs are relatively straight. This position is actually the best choice for those who have sleep apnea since the tongue is less likely to block the breathing tube, which means you’re also less likely to snore. Since your spine is elongated in this position, it helps with back and neck pain as well. The one downside, though, is that it can lead to more wrinkles since your face pushes against your pillow every night.
3. In the fetal position – Surprisingly, this is the most popular sleep position, with 41 percent of adults going with this option (feel free to use this at your next trivia game). If you’re pregnant, the fetal position (where you sleep on your side, your torso hunched, and your knees bent) is actually really good for you. This position helps with circulation not only in your body, but your baby’s body as well. Sleeping on the left side is the best way to go, since sleeping on your right side will push your uterus against your liver. For those who aren’t pregnant, this position is good for snorers. Just as with the other two positions, there are side effects. If you’re curled up too tightly, it can restrict breathing in your diaphragm. It can also leave you feeling sore in the morning. If you do sleep this way, try straightening out your body as best you can, or sleep with a pillow between your knees.
4. On your stomach – Seven percent of people end up sleeping on their stomach. I know what you’re thinking, “All four of these only add up to 71 percent!” These are the main sleeping positions. People sleep in all kinds of weird positions. Sleeping on your stomach is really good for easing your snoring, but that’s just about it. Since it’s hard to keep your spine in a neutral position, you’ll more than likely wake up with back and neck pain. Sleeping on your stomach also puts pressure on your muscles and joints, which could lead to numbness, tingling, aches, and irritated nerves. If you must sleep on your stomach, try to sleep face down instead of having your head turned to one side to keep upper airways open. Special pillows are available for stomach sleepers.