The Sleep Blog

..cos we all need sleep

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Different Sleeping Positions Affect Our Body And Health

Getting enough sleep is important for all of us. This is because the way we sleep and the amount of sleep we have affects our health in many ways. Here are some common sleeping positions we know and the effects it has on our body.

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1. Fetal Position

Sleeping all curled up into a ball with your chin tilted down and your knees drawn up could be comfortable but it can also cause breast sagging and premature wrinkles and affect your breathing. When you tuck your legs into your chest your diaphragm is restricted and this causes your stomach to press on your esophagus which could lead to acid reflux. On the other hand, this particular position can be beneficial if you are taking stress off your spine.

2) Face Down or Stomach Sleeping

This position is definitely the worst. Sleeping on your stomach puts a lot of pressure on muscles and joints in your body, flattening the natural curves in your lower back and leading to aching muscles and pinched nerves that cause numbness and tingling. When you sleep on your stomach, you tend to place your neck at an elevated angle for a long time causing a misalignment of the spine. You also tend to push your face into a pillow which can stretch your skin causing fine lines and breakouts. At the same time, when you lay flat on your chest you inhibit deep breathing and smash your breasts making them look less perky.

If you sleep in this position, you should use a thin pillow under your head or even no pillow at all to avoid straining your back. You may also place a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis to reduce the strain on your back.

3) On Your Back, Arms at Sides

This is considered as the best sleeping position next to lying on your side. It allows proper alignment of your spine and organs and promotes an even distribution of your body weight. It also prevents facial wrinkles and skin breakouts. If you want to maintain this position throughout the night, you should place a pillow under your knees while sleeping. People with sleep apnea should not sleep in this position as it can cause breathing difficulty. On the other hand, this position may be helpful to those with lower back pain by placing a pillow under their knees and a small, rolled towel under their back for additional support. Also, if you sleep on your back with your arms up you can put pressure on nerves in your shoulder, leading to pain.

4) Side Sleeping

This is one of the more healthful sleeping positions you can choose, although this position may contribute to sagging breasts and facial wrinkles due to gravity. The spine is properly supported in its natural curve and it helps reduce back and neck pain as well as sleep apnea. When side sleeping, you elongate the spine with your legs slightly tucked with a pillow placed between your knees and head bent slightly forward. It also makes a difference as to which side you sleep. Sleeping on your right side can worsen heartburn whilst sleeping on your left side minimizes acid reflux but can put a strain on internal organs like the lungs, stomach, and liver. Doctors usually advise pregnant women to sleep on the left side as this allows the best flow of nutrients and blood to the baby.

Whatever sleeping position you choose, you can get a better night’s sleep with less pain in the morning if you support your body with a pillow. Side sleepers should put a pillow between their knees, back sleepers can place a small pillow under the arch of their spine, and stomach sleepers must put a pillow under their hips to support their joints and allow full, pain-free relaxation.