Most people know that the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, but fewer people know the best way to sleep. What do you understand about sleep positions, and do you know yours? Many people don’t give too much thought to how they sleep, merely rolling around until they find a comfortable angle.
Did you know, though, that research does suggest that there is an optimal and suboptimal way to position your body for sleep? While some professionals disagree on the best position, mainly favoring either side or back sleepers, most researchers agree on the worst: The stomach.
How Did the Stomach Get a Bad Reputation?
For those who sleep on their stomachs, the low placement on the best position list might be upsetting. Many may scream foul, decrying the back as a terrible way to sleep. The back, while favored by chiropractors, does have its drawbacks. People with snoring problems or sleep apnea should not sleep on their back because it can worsen their existing issues. Professionals also do not recommend the back for people with acid reflux or sinus or allergy problems. However, despite these issues, the back does fair better than the stomach for most people.
Stomach sleepers risk injury every night they go to sleep. The neck and spine are not in a good resting position, and there is increased pressure on the joints. Plus, when sleeping on your stomach, how do you lay your head? Most people turn it to one side or the other, which only increases misalignment. Additionally, sleeping on the stomach does not bode well for people with sinus and allergy problems because congestion can worsen, making mouth breathing the only option, but depending on where your head is, your mouth is either blocked by the mattress or your windpipe is restricted from the angle of your neck.
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How Should You Sleep?
Side sleeping is often the preferred sleeping position among experts. It allows the individual to limit strain on the body while maintaining a neutral position. Therefore, you will often wake up feeling more rested and relaxed. However, the benefits of this position do not mean that it is free of any problems.
The diagonal from the hips to the knees can cause some discomfort, and the body may roll while sleeping, turning to either the back or the stomach position. Researchers suggest using a pillow or folded blanket between your knees and a body pillow along your back to counteract these problems. They also recommend placing a pillow in front of your stomach, preventing rolling forward.
What If You Cannot Sleep on Your Side?
For some people, the idea of sleeping on their side is impossible. There is nothing wrong with that. While there are health benefits to side sleeping, it is more important that you get and maintain seven to eight hours of sleep every night. True, sleeping on your stomach is the worst position, but if that is the only way you can sleep, try including things to make it more comfortable and healthy. For example, do not turn your head to either side; instead, use a thin pillow and lay completely flat. By keeping your body in line, you can reduce neck or back pain risk. Also, since you know that back and neck pain is typical, do exercises to strengthen these areas.
Do you sleep on your stomach? Leave a comment about it, and check out other blogs from the Smarter Science of Slim about sleep health.