Is Your Sleeping Position Doing More Harm than Good?

A smiling woman lying in a fetal position on blue bedding, shown from above

Whether you’re a side sleeper, back sleeper, or stomach sleeper, one thing’s for sure – your sleeping position can affect the quality of your sleep. If you have a predisposed condition such as sleep apnea, heartburn, or back pain, then poor sleep posture becomes even more of a problem.

So what’s best when it comes to your position during shuteye? Most people tend to gravitate towards a position that they feel most comfortable in, and this is usually due to the fact that it allows for the best breathing. Sleeping on your side is regarded to be the best option for those who suffer from snoring or sleep apnea, as it keep the airways open. Sleeping on your back is the worst for people with these conditions as it can restrict the flow of oxygen.

THE MAIN SLEEPING POSTURES

Each of the main sleeping positions (on your back, on your side, and on your stomach) has their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Sleeping on your back can minimise acid reflux , help your posture, and potentially minimise wrinkles as there is no pressure placed on your skin. However, it restricts airflow and can worsen snoring
  • Sleeping on your side can lessen snoring, as mentioned earlier, but it can cause shoulder and hip pain due to the pressure placed on those joints
  • Sleeping on your stomach can lessen snoring and improve digestion, but it can also put undue pressure on your back and neck.

Variations in the core sleeping positions can have different effects as well. For example, one common variation is the fetal position. The fetal position can be comfortable, but it’s not ideal for your back and neck as it doesn’t allow the spine to extend to its natural curvature.

THE EFFECT OF MATTRESSES

In addition to the position in which you sleep, the mattress on which you sleep is also a very important factor that can determine the quality of your sleep. An old mattress will likely have developed some saggy spots, which can cause posture issues and affect your sleeping position, which in turn affects your sleep.

Further to this, the type of mattress you sleep on can have a dramatic effect on your comfort levels. Whilst there is no one answer for all people (as different people react to different things and have varying preferences), there are some general guidelines.

MATTRESS TYPES

Spring and coil mattresses are often the most common, but they are generally harder to get right to contour to our bodies and natural posture. Memory foam mattresses allow the body to be contoured and supported by the mattress, but they can often wear too quickly, losing their support. They can also become quite hot, so are not good for those who are sensitive to temperature.

Latex mattresses have been around for decades, but the spring mattresses took over due to their low production costs. However, latex mattresses have developed a loyal following over the years, particularly from those who suffer from back pain. The firm and supportive nature of latex reduces the stress on the back and allows the right amount of contour for the body’s natural curvature. This aids overall sleep comfort, and in addition to this, latex is more breathable than memory foam, which contributes to a more comfortable sleep. Another important quality of latex mattresses is their hypoallergenic nature and the fact that they don’t allow for the breeding of dust mites.

Overall, the right mattress can do wonders for the quality of your sleep. Finding a comfortable position to sleep in is as much a matter of listening to your body as it is a matter of providing it with the right platform to sleep on. Finding your body’s preferred position is the key to a good night’s rest, so listen to your joints and take note of how you feel when you wake up.

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