The Best and Worst Sleeping Positions for Your Health
Body language can speak volumes about who we are in that moment and who we are as a person overall. Believe it or not, our bodies are still communicating while we’re sleeping — and they actually have a lot to say.
Your go-to sleeping position plays a role in your quality of sleep, your body language, and your overall health. By looking closer at your sleep preferences and tendencies, choosing a mattress that’s personalized for your needs becomes much simpler.
What are the different sleeping positions?
Ever heard of the starfish, soldier, or freefall sleeping positions? The names might be new to you, but you’re likely familiar with these positions. One of them may even be your preferred sleeping style!
When thinking about sleeping positions, consider both the position you fall asleep in and the position you wake up in. Many times they are not the same, but both have an impact on your sleep quality and health.
Types of Sleeping Positions
- Back sleepers come in two varieties: soldiers and starfishes. Each of these look exactly like they sound. The soldier position is on your back with your arms straight at your sides. A starfish is on your back with your arms and legs spread out a little, not fully straight.
- Stomach sleeping is commonly called the “freefall” because it looks like you just fell onto your bed and didn’t move. Whether you intentionally find a comfy stomach position or just fall down, this isn’t an ideal position for quality sleep.
- Side sleepers have the most variety: fetal, log, or yearner. Characterized by side sleeping with your legs curled up toward your stomach, the fetal position is the most common position among both men and women. The log and yearner are very similar, but differ by arm location. Log sleepers lie are on the side with their arms straight, while yearners have their elbows bent and arms outstretched a bit.
What’s the best sleeping position?
While comfort is important, back sleeping is the best sleeping position because your body is in a natural alignment. Stomach sleeping puts a straight on your neck and spine, and side sleeping is good for snorers , but be careful not to curl up too tightly. Each of the positions listed has pros and cons, outside of just how comfortable you are during the night. These positions impact your overall sleep quality but have secondary health benefits as well.
Sleeping on your back is one of the best sleeping positions because of that natural alignment it provides your body. It is not the ideal position for people that suffer from uncontrolled sleep apnea because sleeping this way can cause your tongue to partially block your windpipe, but it is preferred for people that suffer from acid reflux.
Back sleepers don’t often wake up sore because their head, neck and spine are all lined up in a neutral position, decreasing pressure on any one part.
Stomach sleepers represent a small group of sleepers, but they are usually the most resistant to changing their position — to them, it’s just too comfy!
Why shouldn’t you sleep on your stomach? Even if it’s comfortable, stomach sleeping is one of the worst positions for putting strain on your neck, spine and joints. Stomach sleeping puts your neck at a 90-degree angle on either side, which puts too much pressure on those muscles and joints, causing you to wake up feeling stiff.
If you’re committed to sleeping on your stomach, it’s best to use a pillow customized to your sleeping position to alleviate some of the negative effects.
Side sleepers represent the largest group of sleepers — almost 50%! Sleeping on your side is better for our snoring friends and is usually better for your spine. Admittedly, fetal position isn’t great for your back, but if you’re in that log or yearning position, you’re good to go. The fetal position is pretty common, so if you fall into that category of sleepers, be mindful of how tense you are while sleeping, trying not to scrunch your limbs to your body too tightly.
If you’re pregnant, the fetal position helps with circulation in your body and the baby’s body, too, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Sleeping on the left side in particular is ideal because sleeping on the right will push some internal organs together, causing discomfort and lower nutrient flow to the baby.
This position is also best for those who have sleep apnea, decreasing the likelihood for your tongue to impede your breathing. Three cheers for less snoring!
Choosing your Best Mattress
We want you to have your best night’s sleep, even if your body language screams starfish. That being said, here are the best mattress types for different sleeping positions. You know the deal though — we know that your ideal mattress is determined by more than your sleeping position. While these are some general guidelines, bedMATCH is the only way to definitely know which mattress is best for you.
What is the best type of mattress for back sleepers?
When sleeping on your back, your lower lumbar area is slightly elevated off the bed, so you’ll want to consider mattresses or accessories that give you support in all areas.
What is the best type of mattress for stomach sleepers?
This is a tricky one because stomach sleepers need to think very carefully about not only their mattress — but their pillow, too. This is a finicky bunch, and it’s best to walk through diagnostics to find the mattress that fits your body, and the best pillow for your sleep position.
What is the best type of mattress for side sleepers?
Think again about the shape your body takes when you’re in this position. Your side is less uniform than your back, so you need to have a mattress that supports all those little gaps that side sleeping positions create between your body and the mattress.
What does my sleep position say about me?
Your sleep body language can say a lot about you, according to Chris Idzikowski, PhD, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service in the UK. He’s identified a few common traits of each position:
- Back sleepers are usually more quiet, reserved and have higher expectations of themselves and others.
- Stomach sleepers can be extroverted, easy going people with big personalities.
- Side sleepers (all variations) can be tough on the outside, but gentle on the inside.
Are there strong correlations between your sleeping position and personality? Get Your Best Night’s Sleep
While your personality traits and sleeping position may not be an exact science, the right mattress for your body type and tendencies absolutely is. We spend so many hours of our lives asleep on a mattress, it’s crucial to pick the one that’s best for you. Use the online diagnostic tool bedMATCH to take the guesswork out of mattress shopping, then visit your local Mattress Warehouse to work with our professional team.
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