Whether you fall asleep sprawled out on your back or curled up in a ball, the position you sleep in seriously affects the overall quality of your night’s sleep. Sleep position can play a role in snoring, heartburn, or even wrinkles. And some positions are better than others (sorry, stomach sleepers).
If you think your sleep position is affecting your ability to have a good night’s sleep, keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of each sleeping position.
Pros: Sleeping on your back is great for the spine, neck, and posture because the back is straight. In an ideal world, you'd sleep on your back without any pillows, as this position leaves the neck in a neutral position. Back sleeping also has its cosmetic benefits. Spending all night with your face in the air, as opposed to smooshed into a pillow, leads to fewer facial wrinkles. So, if you want to look fresh in the AM, back sleeping is the position for you.
Cons: Despite its beloved cosmetic benefits, sleeping on your back is not great for everyone. For those who snore or suffer from sleep apnea, sleeping on your back will only make it worse. Lying on your back causes the back of the tongue to collapse into the airway, which obstructs your breathing and creates those beautiful snoring sounds that have dimmed the lights on so many promising relationships. Most doctors suggest sleeping on your side if you suffer from sleep apnea.
Side Sleepers: Which Side Should You Sleep On?
Pros: Sleeping on your side is the most common sleep position for a reason. If you are a side sleeper, you should consider sleeping on the left side. It alleviates acid reflux and heartburn, boosts digestion, stimulates the drainage of toxins from your lymph nodes, improves circulation, and helps your brain filter out waste. Due to anatomy and the location of your body's internal organs, these amazing benefits only come from sleeping on the left side versus sleeping on the right side. It’s also important to sleep on your left side in a non-fetal position.
Cons: Sleeping on the left side can put pressure on the stomach and lungs, and affect blood flow, so it is best to switch it up… or you may experience numbness in your arms from resting on one for too long. Finally, this position puts a lot of stress on the shoulders so if you have shoulder aches and pains, try not to sleep on your side.
Pros: Stomach sleeping eases snoring, but that's about it.
Cons: your stomach is probably the worst sleeping position, especially if you have back problems. It flattens the natural curve of your spinal alignment, which can eventually lead to lower back pain. Plus, sleeping all night with your head turned to one side will strain or give you neck pain. If you do prefer to sleep in this position, try sticking a firm pillow under the hips and lower abdomen to give the bottom of the spine a lift, and ensure a better night’s rest.
The Bottom Line
Be aware of your body and overall sleep patterns to consider if your chosen position is the best option for you. For example, if you do suffer from back pain or snoring and sleep apnea, switch up your position to keep your spine aligned. You might find that this makes a huge difference and results in the best night’s sleep that you have had in awhile.