Healthy sleep allows the body to heal itself from the inside out through muscle growth, tissue repair, and cellular growth, but the wrong sleeping in the wrong position could hinder this. Research suggests the average adult spends approximately one-third of their life resting or sleeping; however, nearly 70 million adults suffer chronic sleep disorders.
The right sleep position can relieve pressure and stress on your spine, improve certain medical conditions, and improve your overall daily life, while an unhealthy position can create aches and pains in the body that lead to a plethora of new problems.
Why is Sleep Important?
With only so many hours in the day, many people choose to sleep less in an effort to get the things done that they feel are more important. However, sleep plays a crucial role in the human body, and should not be sacrificed.
Sleep allows the brain and body to slow down enough to engage in healing that subsequently promotes better mental and physical performance in the days to follow.
Stages of Sleep
Sleep occurs in four main stages - awake, light sleep, deep sleep, and rapid eye movement sleep. While each stage has many health benefits, deep sleep is the main sleep stage that allows the body to restore itself by decreasing blood flow to the brain to rapidly cool it. This stage allows the body to boost the production of ATP, a key energy source in the body, and emits growth hormones from the pituitary gland to stimulate tissue growth and muscle repair.
When one or more sleep stages are interrupted, whether it be due to unhealthy sleeping positions, or outside elements, it is more difficult to get a good night’s sleep, leaving you to feel exhausted the next day. With the right sleeping position, you can reduce the risk of interrupted sleep, or waking with pain.
What is Sleep Posture?
Choosing the best sleep position is important in getting a good night of sleep, but ensuring adequate sleep posture is equally as important. For example, when you have good posture throughout the day, you feel better with fewer aches and pains throughout your back, neck, and shoulders. The same is true for sleeping. When you sleep with good sleep posture in the best sleep position, whether side sleeping, or sleeping on their back, you ensure healthy sleep each night.
What does Good Sleep Posture Feel Like?
Good sleep posture requires mindful attention to your body’s needs, and natural alignment from head to toe. The human spine has three natural curves — one at the neck, the middle back, and the lower back. The right mattress will provide adequate support to all three curves to ensure good sleep posture is maintained while you sleep. If you utilize a healthy sleep position with good sleep posture, you will wake to feel pain-free, and ready to tackle the day!
What are the Most Common Sleep Positions?
The best sleeping position is one that promotes a natural curve of the spine, without compromising sleep quality. The preferred sleeping position varies from one person to the next, and is often based on one’s personal medical history, the position of comfort preferences, and nocturnal body movements.
In the early years of life, children go through spontaneous sleep positions, changing sleeping positions many times throughout the night. They often choose a preferred sleeping position into early adulthood, based on comfort and support.
The most common sleeping positions include:
Sleeping on Your Side
A side sleeping position is one of the most common sleep positions, with more than 60 percent of people sleeping on their side, according to the Sleep Foundation - with more of them being men than women. Sleeping on your side is considered one of the best sleeping positions by sleep experts, as it leaves people less likely to experience pain in the morning. It is often recommended for:
- Pregnant women
- People living with gastroesophageal reflux disease
- People with obstructive sleep apnea
- Loud snoring
- People with persistent neck pain or back pain
Cons to Sleeping on Your Side
Sleeping on your side offers many benefits, like good sleep posture and maintaining a natural position; however, this sleeping position is not for everyone. It is not recommended for people who experience frequent shoulder pain, as it creates tightness in the shoulder joint you are laying on, due to excess body weight placed on the joint.
A side sleeping position can contribute to sleep wrinkles on the face, as the face is pressed against a mattress or pillow during the night, compressing and stretching the skin. Those concerned about developing wrinkles prematurely should avoid a side sleeping position.
Which Side Promotes More Healthy Sleep?
Sleeping on the left side is most recommended by medical professionals. A left-side sleeping position promotes healthy blood flow to the heart and other organs, while right-side sleeping puts pressure on vital organs, and increases symptoms of acid reflux.
Those sleeping in a left-side sleeping position will find additional comfort by adding a small pillow between their knees to maintain spinal alignment and good sleep posture throughout the night. Pregnant women, especially pregnant women that have reached the third trimester, should sleep on their left side with a pillow beneath their growing belly to reduce the risk of the baby putting undue pressure on organs.
Sleeping on Your Back
The best sleeping position is the second most common sleeping position among adults - sleeping on your back. A back sleeping position or supine position is perhaps the best sleeping position to maintain adequate body posture throughout the night. When you sleep on your back, your body weight is evenly distributed to reduce the risk of back or neck pain, and help you get more restful sleep. Unlike other sleeping positions, when you sleep on your back, you minimize premature wrinkling of the skin, as the face is not pressed against a pillow.
Sleeping in a supine position is an excellent sleeping position for people with chronic congestion, persistent neck pain, shoulder pain, or pain in the lumbar region, and people who are worried about premature wrinkling.
Cons to Sleeping on Your Back
Sleeping on your back is the worst position for pregnant women, those who suffer from sleep apnea, snorers, and other conditions. A back sleeping position without a supportive mattress can lead to a gap, forming between your lower back and the mattress, resulting in increased tension. If a back sleeping position is a comfy position for you, but you are looking to decrease the risk of waking up with back pain, place a small pillow between the gap in your back, or beneath your knees.
Sleeping in the Fetal Position
Sleeping in the fetal position is the most popular sleep position for millions - with good reason! The fetal position is achieved by side sleeping with knees bent and legs curled inward towards the torso. This popular sleep position is excellent for:
- Alleviating snoring
- Reducing lower back pain
- Improved circulation for mother and fetus
Though the fetal position is the most popular sleep position, without adequate support from your mattress or pillows, you are left to suffer from improper sleep posture during the night.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Sleep experts suggest sleeping on your stomach is the worst sleeping position. Though this sleep position can alleviate snoring by maintaining an open airway, the ribs are forced to work under excess pressure against gravity, causing your body to use more energy throughout the night, resulting in poor sleep quality for stomach sleepers.
Sleeping on your stomach does not provide adequate musculoskeletal support, making back and neck pain worse upon waking. To achieve stomach sleeping, a person must turn their head to one side to ensure breathing throughout the night. This leads to spinal misalignment, and poor body posture at night, and also leaves a person at risk of sleep wrinkles.
What does My Sleep Position Affect?
The best sleeping positions are those that facilitate healthy, restorative sleep. Many people do not know that your sleep position can affect many aspects of life. Different sleep positions may lead to:
- Acid reflux and heartburn. 20 percent of the adult population suffer from GERD, or chronic acid reflux. Many do not realize stomach sleeping in a prone position can worsen symptoms, or cause a flare-up of heartburn that impacts your sleep. It is recommended to sleep with your upper body slightly elevated with a pillow or adjustable bed.
- Sleep apnea. Serious sleep disorders like sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea greatly affect a person’s sleep, as they constantly wake during the night from periodic pauses in breathing. People with sleep apnea, or those who snore loudly, find they get better sleep while sleeping on their side.
- Back and neck pain. Improper sleep posture leads to an increase in aches and pains upon waking; however, sleeping in a position of comfort that facilitates proper spinal alignment, like sleeping on your back, or side sleeping with adequate support, can help you get a good night’s rest.
- Heart disease. More than six million people suffer from heart failure, with many of them sleeping improperly, leading to symptom exacerbation. Cardiology specialists recommend those with heart disease, or congestive heart failure, sleep on their right side to reduce strain on the heart, and help to maintain proper placement of the vital organ.
Tips for Getting Healthier Sleep
Millions of people around the world prioritize their health every day, yet fall short of prioritizing healthy sleep. Choosing the right sleep position is important, but how do you know which is right for you?
How to Sleep Better on Your Stomach
Without the right mattress, stomach sleeping can cause aches, pains, and insufficient sleep. If this sleep position is your preferred sleep position, place a thin pillow beneath your head, to avoid excess tension in the neck. A firmer mattress can help to alleviate spinal misalignment for a stomach sleeper, as it does not allow heavier areas of the body to sink into the mattress too much.
Experiment with Different Sleep Positions
If your preferred sleep position is stomach sleeping, but you find yourself constantly waking and reaching for the pain relievers, experiment with other sleep positions, until you find the perfect fit for you.
Lower Back Pain
Whether acute or chronic, back pain can significantly impact your sleep. For those who experience chronic lower back pain, try the following sleep positions:
- Side sleeping
- Fetal position
- Back sleeping
- Side sleeping with a thicker pillow beneath your pelvis
- Back sleeping with a thin pillow under your head
- Side sleeping to maintain a patent airway
- Sleeping in the fetal position
- Stomach sleeping with a pillow under your pelvis
- Side sleeping positions, primarily the left side, to reduce gastric contents creeping up
- Back sleeping with your head slightly elevated to help with drainage
Get More Creative with Your Pillows
Let’s be honest, purchasing a new mattress each time you want to change up your sleep position can get expensive, and is not feasible. But, getting creative with how you utilize your pillows can be the problem solver you need! Tucking a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side, or beneath your pelvis while stomach sleeping, will alleviate pressure, and allow for a better night of sleep without breaking the bank.
Create a Sleep Oasis
Without the right sleep environment, you are setting yourself up for failure in the sleep department. Blue light emitting devices like cell phones, tablets, and televisions are harmful to a person’s sleep cycle. Blue light blocks the body’s ability to produce adequate amounts of melatonin, which is the key sleep hormone. Sleep specialists recommend avoiding blue light emitting devices at least one hour before bedtime. In addition, maintaining dim lighting in your sleep space will help the body and mind adjust to the upcoming sleep.
How PlushBeds can Boost Your Sleep
Whether you are looking to enhance your overall sleep quality, or have been forced into searching for a new sleep position to minimize symptoms of a health concern, PlushBeds experts are here to help!
After watching his dad struggle through life with a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, PlushBeds CEO, Michael Hughes, set out to change the sleep game. Through his journey, countless hours were spent researching risk factors of Parkinson’s Disease with the key factor being chemicals and flame retardants used in the process of manufacturing most mattresses, box springs, and pillows. Because we spend more than one-third of our lives resting, the need for chemical-free bedding options became obvious.
Founded in 2008, the family-owned company planted its roots with no outside help, no monetary goals in mind, and no cutting corners for profit. PlushBeds began with one goal in mind - consumer safety - and have changed the mattress game with health as the top priority! We are one of the few dually-certified organic mattress companies in the United States with the GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certifications in sustainability.
At PlushBeds, we have worked tirelessly to bring forth nothing but the best, animal-free, chemical-free, cruelty-free mattresses, mattress toppers, and pillows to ensure you get a better sleep night after night. All of our bedroom mattresses are backed by a lifetime warranty, and a 100-night free trial to help you decide.
We offer many mattress options to allow a better variety, including:
- The Botanical Bliss: a GreenGuard certified mattress with adjustable firmness layers. This mattress comes highly recommended by chiropractors and orthopedic specialists around the world.
- The Luxury Bliss: a twelve-inch luxury organic, hybrid mattress with a fabric encased coil center, and a 3-inch plush top layer for added comfort quality.
- The Natural Bliss: wool-free and vegan, this mattress offers exemplary quality, with no added synthetics, blends, or chemicals. It is great for those with sensitive skin, as it is hypoallergenic.
- The Cool Bliss: a top-rated cooling gel 12” memory foam mattress made up of five plush layers of comfort and coolness for your best night’s sleep.
To find out which mattress is right for you, take our mattress quiz today! No matter what qualities you are looking for in your mattress, mattress topper, or pillows, PlushBeds has options available to meet your needs. We spend at least 8 hours each day in bed; why not ensure we are sleeping in a safe, chemical-free, comfortable environment? After all, sleep health is a crucial factor in maintaining our overall daily health.
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