Do you know what position’s you take when you sleep?
According to veteran sleep researcher and New York psychiatrist, Dr. Samuel Dunkell, and author of the book Sleep Positions: The Night Language of the Body, the position you choose in bed each night echoes the way you deal with your daytime waking hours. Invariably, you often sleep as you live. These chronic sleep positions can affect your sleep both positively and negatively.
Whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach, you probably don’t give your sleeping position much thought. But how you curl up each night can impact your health in ways that will surprise you. Doctors and sleep specialists from research advice that if you can, try and not sleep on your stomach as it compresses your internal organs as well as your spine and neck. Many life-long stomach sleepers have neck and lower-back pain as a result.
The right sleeping positions can alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea, give the brain optimal blood circulation rather than congestion and also allows for more un-obstructed breathing.
Find your sleeping stance below to learn how it affects your health.
If You Sleep on Your Back… (The royal position)
Royal sleeper lie supine, fully on their backs, with arms slightly akimbo at the sides most of the time. It’s an open, vulnerable and expansive position, and these people display self-confidence and self-involvement. They have a higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea, studies show. (Always Tired? Sleep Apnea Could Be to Blame.) But if you wake up feeling refreshed and symptom-free, there’s nothing wrong with snoozing belly-up. (Just don’t forget to wash your pillow.)
If You Sleep on Your Side… (The semi-fetal)
It is most common position, semi-fetal sleepers sleep lying on their sides with knees slightly bent, one arm outstretched above the head, the other resting comfortably on the opposing upper arm to cradle the head. It’s Conciliatory, compromising, non-threatening, non-shakers; sleep experts claim this to be the optimal sleep posture position. Side sleepers wake up in pretty good shape because it doesn’t usually cause neck or shoulder pain, report Australian researchers, and, in some cases, actually improves symptoms of sleep apnea. If you have heartburn, rolling to your left side instead of your right can help, a Stanford University School of Medicine study found. But fair warning: Other research shows that sleeping on your left may give you nightmares.
If You Sleep on Your Stomach… (The prone position)
Prone sleeper lies face down on the stomach with arms extended and bent, usually framed above the head. This isn’t the best. While some research indicates sleeping on your stomach can ease sleep apnea symptoms, participants in this study slept on beds with cutouts for their face. The twisting you have to do to breath on a normal bed can strain your back and neck. There is, however, one surprising upside to dozing belly-down. People who sleep in this position tend to have more erotic dreams—specifically dreams about having sex with a celebrities.
If You Sleep with a Pillow Under your Stomach… (The full-fetal position)
This is the characteristic womb position. Sleepers lie curled on their sides, with knees pulled all the way up, heads bent forward. Usually a pillow or blanket mass is centered at the stomach.