Are you a starfish? I bet you are. You seem like a starfish to me!
No idea what I’m talking about? Your sleep position, obviously. You big starfish, you.
Fine then, I’ll be serious.
The thing is, we spent a full third of our entire lives lying in bed asleep, or at least trying to sleep. Yet very few of us actively put any thought into how we sleep. And so for 6, 7 or 8 hours every night, we put our body into a certain posture and leave it there before floating off into dreamland, unaware of the damage we might be doing.
How we sleep can have a huge impact on how we live.
Because poor sleeping posture can lead to poor daytime posture. Sleeping in an unsuitable fashion can also cause aches and pains, and if you have pre-existing health conditions – like a chronic backache – it can make them worse.
On an emotional level too, not sleeping properly can have all kinds of consequences. You might end up irritable, stressed out and unable to make wise decisions. Your relationships, work life, and health can suffer in a big way…all because sleeping in an uncomfortable way has made you sleep-deprived.
So, now I’ve scared you into thinking twice about your sleeping habits, you might wonder what best practices look like. How are you supposed to sleep? Well, just like each snowflake is unique, so is each body. The sleep position that works for your friend Diane might not be a fit for you.
Read on below for the pros and cons of each sleeping position. Then you can decide which one sounds most suitable for you before giving it a test run. Or rather, a test nap.
This involves sleeping on your stomach, often with your arms stretched overhead and cradling a pillow. It can feel incredibly comforting and it’s actually the best sleep position for digestion. So even if you’ve had a heavy meal before bed – which you should avoid, if you can – this position might be the best way to settle down with minimum discomfort.
On the flip side, front sleepers are at a higher risk of respiration problems (because you’re basically compressing the lungs). So if you have a condition like asthma or difficulty breathing anyway, this one is probably best avoided.
This position might suit those who suffer from a backache, especially with a pillow placed beneath the knees.
The downside to this position is that snoring is a common side effect. This is because the tongue can fall back easily and block the passage of air, causing a deep rattling sound that may give you a bruised arm when you wake your partner for the thousandth time!
This position should also be avoided by those with heart failure, respiratory conditions or gastroesophageal reflux.
Sleeping on your side is said to be the safest and most effective sleeping position for a number of reasons. Firstly, you’re not compressing the lungs nor are you blocking your trachea, so breathing comes more naturally.
Secondly, sleeping this way compliments the natural curve of your spine – which will lessen that “stiff back” feeling come morning.
Finally, sleeping in a fetal position, with your knees tucked in and a pillow between them can help with both back and hip pain. Plus, it just feels really comforting…especially if you’ve got a great foundation like the ones the Sleep Advisors suggest to sleep on!
Now that you’ve (hopefully!) figured out which position is right for you, give it a try for a week. Or try each of them for a week if you’re still unsure and see how your sleeping patterns change. Whatever one makes you feel more rested the next day, go for that one!
And before you even lay yourself down to bed, there are a few quick things you can do to ensure a better sleep:
- Turn off electronic devices an hour before bed (because the blue light they emit stimulates the mind rather than calming it down).
- Make sure to stick to the same bedtime every night (so your body and mind can get on board with the routine and respond accordingly)
- Try eating sleep-promoting foods, like bananas or almonds, as an evening snack to help you wind down even more.
That way, by the time you assemble your body into the sleeping position of your choice, you’ll already be set up for better sleep!
So enjoy experimenting with different sleep styles. And may the sweetest of dreams be your result.