Sleeping Tips for Side Sleepers

Posted by Pam Johnson - Head of Buying on 20th Apr 2022

Sleeping Tips for Side Sleepers

Do you ever toss and turn at night and wonder whether there’s a sleeping position that’s not only right for you, but also best for you?

In our Instagram poll, 76% of people said they sleep on their side. If you do too, it might be helpful to know what the benefits and downsides to sleeping on your side can be.

What is the best sleeping position?

The quick and most truthful answer is – it depends. And it can depend on a whole range of different things, including:

  • Certain health conditions – if you have trouble breathing, sleeping on your back can actually make this worse.(1) 
  • How comfortable you are – personal preferences can determine your sleeping position.
  • If you snore – sleeping on your back can make snoring worse.(2)
  • If your partner snores - facing someone who roars like a rhino in their sleep could well have you turning onto your other side in search of a better night’s sleep!

Are there benefits of sleeping on your side?

Side sleeping and snoring

People are generally less prone to snoring when they lie on their side. This is because when sleeping on your back your tongue can become extremely relaxed, which can block the airflow to your lungs, causing tongue-based snoring. Sleeping on your side can remedy this.

Side sleeping and pregnancy

Sleeping on your side can also be one of the most comfortable sleeping positions when pregnant. Pregnancy pillows making side-sleeping while pregnant even more comfortable.

Should you sleep on your left side or your right side?

A study showed that lying on the left side sometimes increased a heart’s electrical activity on an ECG (electrocardiogram) whereas in comparison, lying on the right side barely changed an ECG. This is thought to be due to the effect of gravity on the heart, however it’s not something to be overly concerned about unless you have an existing heart condition.(3)

What’s the best sleeping position for heartburn?

43% of our Instagram poll participants said they suffered with heartburn when they slept on their side. As almost half of our poll takers also revealed that they sleep on their right side, this position could well be the culprit!

If you too suffer from heartburn, sleeping on your left is thought to help. This is because when you sleep on your right side, the muscles between your stomach and oesophagus are more inclined to relax, which can open the gates for acid reflux to travel upwards from your stomach.(4)

Sleeping positions and your brain

Sleeping on your side is also thought to help reduce the risk of neurological disease, although this is based on a study on animals rather than humans. (5)

What are the negatives of sleeping on your side?

The first negative sounds small but can really affect your sleep – it’s a numb arm. When you lie on your side, if your arm is beneath you, it doesn’t usually take long for it to go numb. While this part might not disturb your slumber, when you move, and your arm is freed ‘pins and needles’ take hold and that can be hard to sleep through.

The second negative is spinal alignment. Lying on your back usually keeps your spine aligned (as long as you’re well supported with the right mattress for your body). However, lying on your side can put pressure on your spine, especially if you’re not supported with the right level of firmness from a mattress and even more so if your pillows are more like pancakes than the supportive head-proppers they should be.

Bespoke Pure Tranquility Mattress

Pure Tranquility Mattress

Ways to make sleeping on your side more comfortable

The best mattress for side sleepers

Soft mattresses are great for if you sleep on your side, as their softness can help your spine to naturally curve as you sleep, helping you to feel comfortable as well as supported. However, we strongly advise you try one before buying or at least follow the tips for choosing the right mattress firmness for you in our SleepPro article.

Medium mattresses can also be great for side sleepers, especially if you change from sleeping on your side and back throughout the night. This is because medium mattresses are a hybrid of soft and firm, which helps cater for the support you need while in either back or side sleeping positions.

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Teflon Ultra Deep Side Sleeper Pillow

Bensons for Beds Ultra Deep Side Sleeper Pillow

The best pillow for side sleepers

Side sleeper pillows can make a huge difference to your sleep quality if you sleep on your side. Pillows like the iGel Side Sleeper Pillow can help to keep your neck and spine aligned while you’re lying on one side.

Using a pillow between your legs can also help with feeling as supported as possible when sleeping on your side.

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Beds and mattresses for all kinds of sleepers

However you prefer to sleep, Bensons for Beds is here to help you find the most comfortable bed for your needs. For help choosing the best bed and mattress for you, simply get in touch with our helpful team and place an order today online, or by calling 080 144 6160 now.

Sources: 

(1)  https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-and-worst-slee...

(2)  https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-and-worst-slee...

(3)  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6118000/

(4)  https://opa.org.uk/the-best-side-to-sleep-on-for-digestion-and-other-benefits/#:~:text=The%20stomach's%20natural%20position%20is,intestine%20to%20the%20large%20intestine.

(5)  https://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/31/11034

Poll results:

Do you think sleeping in a certain position helps you sleep better? Yes 486 95% / No 27 5%

Do you sleep on your side, front or back? Side 486 76% / front 115 18% / 42 7%

If you sleep on your side, do you sleep on your left side or right side? Left 328 53% / Right 286 47%

Do you suffer heartburn during sleep? Yes 129 21% / No 496 79%

If so, what position are you in when you experience heartburn? Front 42 19% / back 85 38% / side 97 43%

authors profile
Pam Johnson
Head of Buying
Pam has worked within Bensons for Beds for 16 years and has a great deal of experience in both developing and sourcing new product ranges. As Head of Buying specialising in mattresses, divans and headboards, Pam is dedicated to providing solutions that help customers to get a great night’s sleep.
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