Well Rested Sleep

How To Get A Good Night's Sleep

Find and Optimize Your Best Sleeping Position

Reaching a whopping $70 billion, the sleep industry revolves around consumers in need of optimizing their slumber to maximize their health and daily functioning. With everything from pillows through weighted blankets, white noise machines through nutritional supplements, and all the assorted products in between, there is an overwhelming number of options for people to customize their sleep experience and address any issues they may be facing. = But before scouring every mattress review and filling your shopping cart full of all sorts of inventions, consider taking a step back and contemplating a fundamental element of sleep: sleeping positions. People usually tend to be either back, side, or stomach sleepers, depending on which position they consistently prefer over the course of a night’s sleep. Each position has its pros and cons. Knowing where you stand can help point you in the direction of the simplest and potentially most effective changes to start with as you work towards better sleep.

But before scouring every mattress review and filling your shopping cart full of all sorts of inventions, consider taking a step back and contemplating a fundamental element of sleep: sleeping positions. People usually tend to be either back, side, or stomach sleepers, depending on which position they consistently prefer over the course of a night’s sleep. Each position has its pros and cons. Knowing where you stand can help point you in the direction of the simplest and potentially most effective changes to start with as you work towards better sleep.

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Back Sleeper

Only about 10% of people sleep on their backs, although it is the best position of the three for a good night’s sleep.

Pros:

  • Reduce neck and shoulder stress, since it’s easier to find a mattress and pillow combination that provides the support you need.
  • Alleviate heartburn and reduces acid reflux, particularly if you slightly elevate your neck and head.
  • Place less pressure on organs and limbs, since there is more room for them to naturally fall into place without being compressed.

Cons:

  • It could cause or worsen lower back pain, especially if you sleep without proper knee elevation or support from your mattress.
  • Might exacerbate sleep apnea or snoring, since the head and neck might rest more easily in a way that obstructs respiratory passages.

Tips for a better night’s sleep in this position:

  • A firm mattress is optimal to align your body properly and provide even, stable support throughout.
  • Use a low pillow to make sure your neck and head stay aligned with your body and increase the likelihood of keeping airways open.
  • Keep a pillow under your knees in order to raise them slightly and relieve some pressure from your hips and lower back.

Side Sleeper

This is by far the most popular sleeping position in the United States, with about 3 in 4 sleepers choosing this as their preferred position.

Pros:

  • Sleeping on the left side is said to make it easier for the body to digest food and eliminate waste, which is particularly beneficial for people with digestive problems.
  • As long as the body is elongated, this position can help relieve lower back pain.
  • It can reduce snoring and sleep apnea since the neck and chin can remain aligned with the body—leaving airways wide open for healthy breathing.

Cons:

  • Places uneven pressure on the shoulders, hips, and other body parts outside of the back, since the side closest to the mattress, faces additional compression. This is strongest in the shoulder, causing pain and misalignment that can radiate into the neck.
  • Less than ideal for the skin, since part of the face, may sag and another part is pressed up against the pillow and sheets. Over time, this can contribute to wrinkle formation.

Tips for a better night’s sleep in this position:

  • Try to elongate your body as much as possible to prevent organ obstruction. The lungs are prone to being compressed if people don’t stretch their bodies out, which can make breathing more difficult.
  • Place a pillow between your knees to relieve pressure off your hips and lower back.

Related: Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

Stomach Sleeper

Approximately 16% of Americans prefer to sleep on their stomachs, although sleep professionals advise against this position since it has hardly any benefits and can actually cause more problems.

Pros:

  • Ease snoring, because this position doesn’t push the chin out the way the other positions do.

Cons:

  • Because people carry the bulk of their weight in their mid-section, this position places a lot of pressure there—and on the spine.
  • This position usually forces people to turn their heads to one side, which shifts the neck and spine out of alignment and causes strain.
  • Pregnant women generally cannot sleep on their stomachs because the pressure produces discomfort, but an additional consideration is that stomach sleeping can reduce oxygen flow to the baby.

Tips for a better night’s sleep in this position:

  • Use a soft pillow to cushion your neck and promote a natural position.
  • Using a slightly fuller pillow means that you can place it under your forehead and sleep facing the mattress instead of turning your head, which can block airways.

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