(HealthyResearch.com) – A lot of people have a preferred position for snoozing when bedtime rolls around. Some people enter dreamland with pillows piled beneath their neck, while others plop down face first on their mattress and sleep soundly until morning. Although these positions may feel comfortable at the time, unfortunately, they may not be good for your spine or joints. Here’s what your favorite way to sleep reveals about your health, whether you sprawl out on your back, curl up on your side or alternate between a few different positions.
If you’re a side sleeper, congrats! With a pillow between your knees to help align your spine, this is actually the best way to sleep, at least as far as your spinal health goes. Bonus points if you snooze on your left side, as this may benefit your digestive health and help waste pass through your body more easily. Watch out for your shoulders, though, as sleeping on your side can cause discomfort if you have joint problems. You can help prevent this by using an orthopedic pillow geared toward side sleepers like you.
Sleeping on your back is ideal if you’ve got an out-of-whack spine because the mattress and pillow support your neck and back. However, this position can cause some major snoring, so keep that in mind if you’re not sleeping alone. Also, laying on your back may cause discomfort if you have lower back issues, so try slipping a pillow under your knees to decrease pressure.
Your partner may love it when you sleep on your stomach because it prevents your snoring, but this position can be hard on your neck and back. Your neck gets pushed backwards when you sleep on your belly, which irritates the natural curve of your spine. For a select few people, it helps relieve some disc herniations, however. Try gradually easing into a side-sleeping routine instead if you’re a stomach sleeper. If you must sleep on your stomach, place a flat, firm pillow under your hips and abdomen and try sleeping with your head facing down on a rolled up towel or small pillow to allow you room to breathe. This may help prevent the twisting at the neck often experienced by stomach sleepers and help keep you from waking with neck aches and headaches.
A plush pile of pillows works well for late-night readers or TV watchers, but it’s best-suited for leisurely activities — not a blissful night of sleep. When your pillows are stacked too high, it puts pressure on your neck and upper body. That’s why many people wake up with a stiff neck or jaw even though they slept comfortably through the night.
Fetal Position Sleeper
Curling up on your side with your knees pulled up toward your chest so that you are in the fetal position may help relieve lower back pain. Because this is a modified form of the side sleeper position, you should place a pillow between your knees to relieve potential hip strain. This is one of the most popular sleep positions, probably because the back is aligned and because this position discourages snoring and sleep apnea.
Do you spend your nights tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position? This may prevent your body from getting enough restorative sleep, even if you clock in 7 or 8 hours of shut-eye each night. Over time, you may notice a decline in your cognitive function, and your restless nights may even increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Talk to your doctor about sleep aids.
Regardless of which position you prefer, pay attention to your body when you’re tucked beneath your plush comforter. Try a new position if your body hurts as you drift off to sleep or aches first thing in the morning, and let your doctor know if pain continues.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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