How your sleeping position affects your health

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Do you sleep on your back, curled up in a ball, on your side or star-fished out on your stomach? No matter what your preferred sleeping position is, find out how it can affect your health.

On your back, arms down

This is generally considered to be the ‘best’, or healthiest, sleeping position. It is good for your spine and your neck, as long as you don’t use too many pillows or your pillow isn’t too high. It can, however, cause you to snore, or cause your snoring volume to increase.

On your back, arms up

This position is also good for your back, but it can cause shoulder problems as your shoulders are resting in an unnatural position for a long period of time. Any back position may make snoring worse, but it is thought that sleeping on your back can help to prevent facial wrinkles and breakouts.

On your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can be good for digestion, but as most people turn their head to the side in order to breathe, this one can cause neck problems. Sleeping on your stomach is also not great for your spine, as it has little support.

On your side, curled up
If you are curled tightly into a ball, this position can cause neck and back problems. Sleeping on your side is, however, helpful in minimising snoring.

On your side, arms up or down
Your spine is well supported in its natural curve in this position, provided you have a good mattress. Sleeping on your side with your arms down can also help with neck problems, sleep apnoea and snoring. The downside is that any side position can cause shoulder pain, due to restricted blood flow and pressure on the nerves. These problems can be exacerbated if you have your arms out in front of you.

Which side?

Which side you sleep on can also have health effects. Sleeping on the right side can worsen heartburn, while sleeping on the left can put strain on some of your internal organs.

With an extra pillow

The extra pillow isn’t for your head – it’s for the rest of your body. Supporting your sleeping position with an extra pillow is a sure-fire way to get a more comfortable night’s sleep. If you sleep on your back, try a small pillow in the arch of your spine. On your stomach, tuck a small pillow under your hips. And if you sleep on your side, try a thin pillow between your legs. 

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Total Comments: 29
  1. 0

    After spending six years confined to a wheelchair then managing to walk again, I experienced painful hip problem upon waking. A slim pillow between my knees fixed the problem so now I have two lying lengthwise on my bed. My beloved elderly cat makes use of them during the day by sleeping, leaning propped up on one. 🙂

  2. 0

    N.B. sleeping on the back seems to be worse for people with sleep apnoea.

  3. 0

    I sometimes had trouble getting to sleep at night so my doctor advised me to sleep on my side right on the edge of the bed… that way you are almost certain to drop off!

  4. 0

    Good one Reeg ……

    In whatever position, I always make sure I sleep with my glasses on in order to see my dreams clearly ! 🙂

  5. 0

    you can fall asleep in anyway you chose but once you’re asleep you have no control.

  6. 0

    I NORMALLY sleep on my side, but lately have had to frequent bladder problems, not good getting out of bed on cold winters nights, have a hospital bed so tied sitting up, cured the bladder problems, I have been told I snore, but as I don’t hear it, have no idea if snoring is louder sitting up.

  7. 0

    I found if you put you’re bed against a wall it stops you getting out the wrong side.

  8. 0

    Has anyone ever dreamt they were desperately looking for a toilet …..and then dreamt they found one …………………:-)

    • 0

      Yes I often do. Why that is I do not know. Sometimes I find them in rather odd places too.
      I have always slept on my left side. Very rarely move all night. I sometimes move over to my right side but after a short time I move back to my left. I have never liked sleeping on my back, arms up or down.

    • 0

      Grey voter….comes as a nasty shock when you wake !!

    • 0

      Ha ha. I don’t even bother looking for a toilet! Anywhere to squat will do! Still doesn’t help when you wake up tho. Actually it’s worse, cause it’s quicker to find a squat spot than to find a toilet.

      When I was 5 years old I was consumed by Shintaro on TV. They had female ninjas on that day, so when I went to bed that night I imagined I was a ninja, on TV. Then I thought “how come on TV you never see people doing ordinary, everyday things like washing or going to the toilet? I think I’ll go now, just to make this show more realistic.” Yep, emptied the whole bladder and started wondering why my pyjama pants were so very warm, then not so warm but…wet!

      It was the first and last time I ever wet the bed. Tho lately when I wake, I really need to get up and get to the loo real fast. I rarely get up during the night as I’m a heavy sleeper, so by morning I have a full tank.

  9. 0

    Sleeping less is often experienced as a condition related to increasing age. In the retirement nursing hostel near us, all the old men are given a bedtime mug of warm milk and Milo together with a Viagra tablet. The Milo drink helps them drop off and the Viagra stops them rolling out of bed.

  10. 0

    I have tried them all and still wake up with aches and pains,turning a lot during the night. I find it hard to control but I do find that on my back is best for circulation if I can manage to stay that way.

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