Sleep posture on your health

Most of us spend about 33% of our lives sleeping, so it’s not a huge surprise that your sleep posture would play a big part in determining your musculoskeletal health. Improper sleeping habits and pose can strain your body, from causing problems such as neck and back pain, muscle cramps, headaches, and sleep apnea. Depending on your physique and any pre-existing conditions, there is a sleeping posture that may work better for you than others!

Most possibly the worst sleep position for your body is sleeping on your stomach. The only benefit is that it does help relieve snoring, but the strain it puts on your spine can be potentially damaging. Because your spine is healthiest when it is in a neutral position, or when your vertebrae are aligned properly, sleeping on your stomach puts extra pressure on the discs leading to prolonged unnatural bending in the spine. Possibly leading to neck and back pain, and irritation of the nerves, it would be healthiest to adjust the position to put less harm on your musculoskeletal system, or just take on a new sleep posture all together [1].

If you are a stomach sleeper at heart, you may want to consider using a very thin pillow for your neck, or none at all, to re-position the neck and put less strain on it. A firmer mattress may be something worth looking into to put less pressure on the lower back, or put a pillow under your hips for the same effect. Lastly, try the “Child’s Pose” to stretch out the hips and lower back.


 

Back sleepers should be proud of themselves – sleeping on your back is one of the best positions for your body! Since the spine is in its natural alignment all throughout the night, there is less, if any, added pressure on your back and neck, meaning that you are less likely to experience back or neck pain during the day. If you want to stay youthful, this position also allows for less wrinkles! However, because your tongue can fall and obstruct your windpipe, this position may not be the best for snorers or those with sleep apnea. Also, sleeping on your back is usually not the most comfortable position, as only 8% of the population sleep this way [2].

One comfortable pillow should be enough, granted that it’s not so high that it strains your neck.

 


 

With most of the population being side sleepers, this position is fairly beneficial in terms of spine health. The position keeps the spine elongated, and puts minimal strain on your back and neck. Sleeping on your side also lessens snoring, and it may be ideal if you suffer from sleep apnea, acid reflux, or heartburn. For some pregnant women, it may be suggested that they sleep on their side in order to put less strain on their stomach and back. Nonetheless, this position can constrict and put pressure on some of your crucial internal organs, including your lungs, heart, and liver. Aesthetically speaking, it may also lead to premature face wrinkles, as well as a saggy chest for women.

A thick pillow would be optimal for side sleepers, in order to accommodate for your shoulders and give your spine a neutral alignment. It is also advised not to sleep in the fetal position (ie. your knees tucked toward your chest), as this can also cause neck, shoulder, and back pain.

Depending on any health conditions and the existence or severity of back, neck, and shoulder pain, it may be wise to consider adjusting your sleeping position to better your health. No matter what, make sure you end the day with a good night’s sleep!