Which is the best sleep position?

Are you a back sleeper or a side snoozer? Do you sleep like superman or lay with your knees up?

We all know that sleep is integral to a long life, but the position in which you sleep can be the difference between healthy z’s and sleeping dangerously. So, which position will help you live longest? And what does your sleep position say about you?

Sleeping face down
If you sleep face down, you may be straining your neck and lower back making it difficult to hold that position for extended periods. Tummy sleepers will usually toss and turn in order to get comfortable during the night, which can lead to restless, unsatisfying sleep. If you do sleep this way, it’s best to use a very soft pillow or none at all.

Face down, arms tucked under
Freefall sleeping is when you sleep on top of a pillow with your arms wrapped around. It’s pretty common, and research suggests that people who sleep this way are outspoken and outgoing but a little bit sensitive to criticism.

Back sleeping
Sleeping on your back can lead to increased snoring, can exacerbate sleep apnoea, and may cause lower back pain. It may be one of the most comfortable positions, but it can also be one of the more harmful to your health.

On your back, arms down by your side
This position is known as ‘soldier’ and it’s predominantly a night-time posture favoured by those who are quiet and enjoy solitude.

On your back, arms in ‘surrender’ pose
Also known as the ‘starfish’, this position is common for good listeners and people who like to blend into a crowd.

Side sleeping
Laying on your side with your knees bent slightly towards your chest is probably the most comfortable sleeping position and it also puts the least strain on your body.

On your side, foetal position
Most people sleep this way and woman are twice as likely to utilise this position than men. Sleeping this way suggests that you’re friendly and warm but are also protective of yourself.

On your side, arms by your side
This is called the ‘log’ position, hence the whole ‘sleep like a log’ idiom. People who sleep like this tend to be easygoing and quite trusting.

On your side, arms in front
When you sleep with your arms out in front of you, like you’re trying to give someone a hug, it’s called the ‘yearner’ position. Studies suggest that these sleepers may be open-minded, but more likely suspicious and stubborn.

On your side, spooning
Ah, yes. The good old ‘spoon’ position … You love to lay close to your partner, which may mean you wake up a little more often than solo snoozers, but the chemical your body releases when sleeping in this position, oxytocin, reduces stress, improves your relationship and can help you relax and get back to sleep quickly. No wonder we all need a little spooning now and then.

So, which position is best?
If you’re a snorer or suffer from sleep apnoea, then you should sleep on your side, otherwise your night troubles could lead to severe health conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease.

People with back pain should also sleep on their side, with a pillow between their legs. If you have back pain and can’t sleep unless you’re on your back, then put a pillow under your knees to help maintain the curvature of your spine.

Related articles:
Sleep: five tips to get enough
Sleep monitor no substitute for a GP
Can sleep prevent Alzheimer’s?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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