What Your Sleep Position Says About You (2:32)
As soon as we are able to curl up in bed by ourselves, we fix on a preferred sleep posture; crawling into bed and assuming the same position every night without much thought. Our sleep environment often becomes the object of our aches and pains; the bed is too firm or the pillow is too soft. But it is possible that your sleep posture is to blame. Misalignment during sleep can put stress and strain on the spine, neck, shoulder, hips and jaw which in turn affects how you feel the next day. It can also sabotage your ability to relax well enough to fall asleep.
Watch a sleeping child and they are likely to be a stomach sleeper, while grandma fancies the right-sided position. Still, adjusting your sleep position may mean the difference between night and day.
There are 3 curves on the body that you should be paying attention to; 1 in the lower back, 1 in middle of your back, and 1 near the neck. The goal is to try to maintain these natural curves when you sleep.
Here is some healthy advice for your manner of sleeping.
Dead Man's Float
This sleeper spends the night prone, on his stomach, head turned to the side, with arms splayed under the pillow.
The problem - In this position you hyper-flex the neck and exert pressure on the nerves along the underside of your arms that can cause pins and needles and awaken you from sleep. The body's weight compresses the lungs, preventing a fully expanded deep breath. It also exerts unnecessary pressure on the breasts.
The fix - Don't use a head pillow at all. Try raising the whole side of your body slightly with a long pillow, or place a pillow under your hips.
This sleeper spends the night on his back.
The problem - Sleeping in the supine position can cause the tongue to fall inwards to block the breathing tube. Back sleepers are prone to snoring and sleeping supine is not good for people with sleep apnea, a life-threatening sleep disorder that causes brief episodes of breathlessness.
The fix -Sleeping on your back is not good for you or your bed partner, who may have to endure every snort and rattle all night. Infants however, should always be placed on their backs to prevent sudden infant death (SIDS). If you must sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees and a small pillow under your lower back.
People with heart failure, certain respiratory diseases, glaucoma or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) may benefit from taking their solider position into a semi-sitting position.
This type of sleeper sleeps on the side, back slightly curled with knees bent and arms folded.
The problem - None. This is the healthiest position to sleep in. This posture complements the natural curvature of the spine.
To make it even better - Add comfort and reduce stress on the hips by putting a pillow between your knees. Use a pillow of moderate height to support the head. Try a water pillow that can be easily adjusted. If there is room, stretch arms out front. If you have high blood pressure, try sleeping on the left side. If you are prone to kidney stones on one side, side-sleep on the other side.