When we lay down in bed for a good night’s sleep, we probably do it the same way every night by default. Not much thought goes into how we lay and what each sleep position may be doing for us or against us. Research and study shows that sleep and sleep posture are major factors that govern much of our physiology, psychology and waking activities.
Do you sleep on your back? On your stomach? Are you a lefty sleeper or righty dreamer? Do you curl up into a cozy little ball called the fetal position? As it turns out, each of these positions has their own important effects on us. Some of these effects we want to avoid and others we can enhance.
First let’s go over sleeping on each side. Right side sleeping is good for your back, but make sure to add a pillow between your knees to keep your hips in alignment. A Gusset pillow is a great option for this type of sleeper (try our Classic Gusset Down Pillow). For this side posture, make sure you don’t over extend your arm above your head, which stresses the shoulder area. Instead, place your arm forward with your arm bent and resting your hand under the edge of the pillow. To support your head in this position and avoid neck pains, you’ll want to make sure you have a thick enough pillow to support your head in a straight line from your back.
Sleeping on your left side is much like the right side but also has the added benefit of reducing acid reflux and heartburn. If you are a side sleeper, following these steps will ensure that it’s great for your body in the long run.
Sleeping on your back, aside from the possibility of snoring, is the most recommended position. This position places the least strain on your spine, depending on the type of bed you own. When sleeping on your back, you’ll want to make sure two places are supported. First, support behind your knees. Place a soft down pillow underneath your knees so that your legs will be slightly bent. This will prevent you from putting undo stress on your hips and allow your back to have its natural curve while you sleep. Secondly, you’ll want to make sure to support the vertebrae in your neck. Studies show that many of the market’s ergonomic pillows meant to take care of this, have little to no effect. Research suggests that the best way to support your neck is with a down pillow, coupled with a rolled-up hand towel or small bolster under the base of your neck. Be aware that pillows that are too large wrench your head forward causing problems of their own. In this case, down pillows were shown to be healthier for long term upper spinal health.
When it comes to sleeping on your stomach, Doctors and researchers unanimously agree, don’t do it. It causes upper and lower back problems as well as multiple health problems in the long term. If you have lower back problems, it might be good to note whether you’re a stomach sleeper or not. While this can be hard to train your body away from, it just takes practice and is worth avoiding chronic body pains.
Lastly, the fetal position, even though widely used, is not as healthy as regular side sleep or back sleeping. If the fetal position is a must for you, make sure your knees and head are supported to minimalize any long-term damage.
It can be difficult to remain conscious of how you sleep. Following these tips and choosing a healthy sleep position are a great way to ensure your body stays in good shape and wards off unnecessary stress.