What’s the best sleeping position and what does it say about you?
When you’re snuggled up under some soft bedding, your thoughts don’t typically go to what position you’re lying in. Whatever’s comfiest, right? In fact, how we choose to sleep can have a surprising amount of impact on our health.
Ever woken up with back ache and wondered why? Or perhaps you’ve experienced heartburn in the middle of the night? It might be down to how you’re lying when you’re asleep.
Sleeping on your back
Nodding off facing the ceiling with your arms down by your sides may look a little strange, but it’s actually one of the best positions for you. That’s because you’re not twisting your spine (the only exception being your neck that will probably be slightly propped up by a pillow).
By allowing your back to remain in a neutral position, you won’t be adding any extra pressure that might cause you to wake up feeling stiff and achy. Keeping your head facing upwards also helps prevent wrinkles from forming when you sleep, plus sleeping flat on your back means your organs are not being crushed by the weight of your body.
The downside to sleeping on your back is, of course, pesky snoring. It’s also one of the worst positions for those who suffer from sleep apnea because it forces your tongue to move to the back of your mouth, blocking some of your airway.
Sleeping on your stomach
As you might expect, falling asleep on your front has the reverse benefits of sleeping on your back. It’s terrible for those who get back pain as it makes the spine straighten out and stiffen instead of curve naturally.
You’ll also have to have your head facing one way all night, meaning you’ll be placing added strain on your neck. This position does, however, reduce the likelihood of snoring.
Sleeping curled up
Often described as the foetal position, this is one of the most popular poses that people opt to sleep in — and, interestingly, it’s a much more popular option for women rather than men. This position is particularly good for snorers, pregnant women and those who often have back ache as it allows your spine to arch naturally.
However, while it may feel comforting, sleeping curled up on your side can put some strain on your internal organs as well as lead to wrinkles developing more rapidly on the side of your face that you choose to lie on.
Sleeping on your right
Facing the right-hand side when sleeping may stretch your back out but it can also lead to heartburn, as well as acid reflux due to the position of your organs. You might also start to develop more wrinkles on the right side of your face if you regularly sleep in this stance (and vice versa if you often sleep on your left).
Sleeping on your left
This marginally trumps sleeping on your right as it allows your stomach and heart to rest more comfortably, in addition to being better for blood flow around the body. This latter benefit makes it particularly great if you’re pregnant. Left side sleeping can, however, put some strain on other organs like your liver and lungs.
What does your sleeping position say about you?
There’s no scientific evidence to suggest how you sleep holds up a mirror to your personality, however, it can be reflective of other things such as your mood. For instance, if you tend to sleep hugging a pillow, you’re likely quite a loving person who craves affection. Contrastingly, sleeping in the foetal position may mean you’re feeling a bit vulnerable (just like a baby is).
Overall, though, we tend to have little control over what stance we choose when we sleep simply because we’re not awake to decide! There’s no right or wrong way to sleep, and which position is best for you will depend on many things, from your age and size to any health conditions you might have.
If you’re hoping to improve things like your back health or reduce your snoring, it’s important to remember that having good pillows and a high-quality mattress that’s right for your needs are also essential for a healthy night’s sleep.