Maybe you still sleep curled up like a child, or you’re sprawling your wingspan as you sleep. Maybe your stomach is the comfiest position, or perhaps you’re looking for a new way to seek more comfortable sleep.
Everyone has a different sleep style. There is no right way to sleep since people are different.
Certain sleeping positions have different outcomes for your body, health, and sleep habits. Also, since our bodies are always changing, how you liked sleeping as a child might not be your cup of tea as an adult or as a senior citizen.
You always need to check yourself for any aches and pains that could possibly be caused by your sleeping position. If you find yourself with breathing problems or back troubles, you might need to consider adjusting your sleeping position to help alleviate it.
Here are some of the different sleeping positions and how it might be affecting your overall sleep!
Back It Up: Sleeping on Your Back
Time to get your spine into alignment, soldier! Sometimes sleeping on your back is referred to as the “soldier” sleep position, if your arms are straight down at your side. If they’re above your head, it’s the “shooting star” sleep position.
Sleeping on your back in the “soldier” position will get your spine to its most natural resting place. Instead of curling up or sleeping on your stomach, sleeping on your back can help support your spine. It’s also particularly good for helping to alleviate lower back pain, and you won’t get any wrinkles since your face is up.
On the downside, sleeping on your back can develop snoring. This happens because your tongue is pulled to the back of your airway, partially blocking it.
In the “shooting star” sleep style, you’ve got your arms thrown over your head. This is the least common sleeping style, but it certainly isn’t the most uncomfortable. It helps with acid reflux; unfortunately, it can also help develop snoring.
If you have sleep apnea, avoid sleeping on your back! Having your airway restricted is not what you need.
- Put a pillow beneath your knees to keep your spine properly aligned
- For more support, put a pillow under your lower back for the same reason
- If you don’t like putting pillows anywhere except under your head, then try lifting your knees and folding your arms across your chest
For that last one, it’s half-way to being a zombie, but your back will thank you for it.
The Side Sleeper: A Great Sleep Style Choice
If you curl up in the fetus position, you’re a side sleeper for sure. You curl your back and bring your legs in for a good night’s rest. Sleeping in the fetus position may help you alleviate lower back pain and keep your spine into alignment.
Because of sleeping on your side, you may find you have better blood flow and an easier time digesting food. Sleeping on your left side will help relieve heartburn, but make sure not to sleep on your right side if you suffer from it.
There’s always a downside, though. Sometime side sleeping might mean you have achier joints in the morning. Having your face on the pillow like that might mean you wake up with weird creases or marks on your face too, if not a little bit of acne.
Also, the shoulder you sleep on might feel a bit tender or painful in the morning. You need to be sure to take care of your shoulders in your waking hours if you’ll be sleeping on them at night.
- Get that full-length body pillow you’ve always wanted to help keep your neck straight
- Hug the pillow, or put it between your legs
- You can also alternate sides you fall asleep on to avoid consistent neck and shoulder pain on one side of your body
Side sleeping is relaxing, but you need to make sure you’re not sacrificing your neck or shoulders for it.
Sleeping on Your Stomach: Sink or Swim?
Sleeping on your stomach isn’t common, and it’s more likely you’ll sink into that mattress rather than swim through your dreams.
If you want to stop snoring or alleviate some aspects of sleep apnea, for some people it may help to sleep on their stomachs. However, otherwise you’re putting a lot of pressure on your spine by sleeping on your stomach. You may wake up with creases on your face, like you would when sleeping on your side.
It isn’t all bad to sleep on your stomach, but you do need to take proper precautions to make sure you don’t wake up with aches and pains.
- Put a pillow under your stomach
It might sound crazy, but it will help keep back pain at bay.
It’s All in the Pillows
Sometimes you need a little help beyond changing sleeping positions to get yourself sleeping comfortably. Looking at what pillows or mattresses you’re using can help you consider what you need to change to get comfortable sleep.
If you’re dealing with neck problems, reevaluating the pillow you use may help you. Sometimes the fluffier the pillow, the less useful it is to supporting your neck.
If you lay on your back, having a thin pillow that helps keep your chin in a neutral position works best. If you’re a side sleeper, your pillow needs to fill the gap between your head and shoulders to best support you and your neck. You could even double up two pillows, if needed.
Sleeping on your stomach is quite bad for your neck generally, so using a pillow would actually cause neck pain rather than relieve it. You could order a specially shaped pillow to help your neck too.
It’s Also in the Mattress
Not only could it be your pillows preventing you from having comfortable sleep, but it could also be your mattress. If you’re finding yourself having back or neck problems, you can also reconsider your mattress.
Replace your mattress if it’s old, and avoid mattress covers. If you can’t change your mattress due budgets or you’re traveling (staying in a hotel), you can use pillows to fix your spine alignment by putting them under your stomach or under your knees, depending on your sleeping position.
An adjustable base mattress might help. Check it out! When you use one, you can give yourself the freedom to find the right placing and height for your mattress.
Want a New Sleeping Position?
Maybe you need to change your primary sleeping position to help prevent snoring, or maybe you’re wanting to try something new. There’s a couple of ways that might help you get started on finding your new comfortable sleep position.
Stop using electronics at least two hours before you go to sleep. Yes, that means your smart phone! It can delay your body’s internal clock.
The same goes for keeping natural light out of your room, so shut those curtains! You don’t want to disturb your sleep and roll back into your old sleeping position.
If you’re suffering from a neck or shoulder injury, chances are you’ll need to change your sleeping position to avoid a painful night’s rest. Don’t sleep with your arm under your head, and use pillows to help support your neck or shoulder.
The Cleveland Clinic says that alternating sleeping positions is the best thing you can do to keep your body in alignment and get your best rest. Try sleeping on your back or side to see how your body reacts!
Don’t Write Off How You Sleep
Paying attention to how you sleep is key to making sure you find the proper sleep position for you. Everyone is different, and you’re no exception! You deserve to find your most comfortable sleep style.
Sleeping on your back gives you the alignment your spine needs. When you sleep on your side, the position will help you stop snoring and relieve heartburn (if you sleep on your left side). Stomach sleeping might sound cozy, but it’s the least common sleeping position and won’t relieve much pressure.
Reevaluating your pillows, mattress, and before-bed routine can help you change your sleeping position to get better sleep or alleviate pain. In addition, changing your sleep style from time to time can help your body in the long run.
Remember: it’s up to you and your preference for how to sleep comfortably. Check your body to make sure you’re not hurting it while sleeping.
For more information on sleep and mattresses to help you sleep, check out the rest of our blog!