what is the best way to sleep at night?
Sleep Positions

Which Sleep Position Is The Healthiest?

Whenever we climb into bed at the end of a day, the first thing we do is assume our preferred sleeping position. This could involve lying on our back, side, or stomach.

The healthiness of a sleep position depends on the individual and their objectives.

Sleeping on the side is recommended for pregnant women, chronic snorers, and those with back pain. Back sleeping may boost the health of people with joint pain, nocturia, or blocked noses.

If you enjoy high-quality, restful sleep and don’t experience any physical pain or discomfort in the morning, your sleep position is likely okay.

However, many people find that everyday aches, pains, and ailments can be resolved by changing their sleep positions.

Why Do We Sleep in Different Positions?

Like we all have a preferred side of the bed, almost everybody also has a preferred sleeping position. Sometimes, this is born of necessity. If you share a bed, you may find that you can only get comfortable – or even fit – in certain positions.

In other instances, chosen sleeping positions can be revealing about our personalities. A study published in the journal Sleep and Hypnosis, which surveyed the sleep positions of university students, links feelings of anger to preferred sleep positions.

Everybody has their reasons for choosing a favored sleep position. Overall, it’s believed that these selections can be attributed to particular personas. Of course, sleeping positions aren’t always subconscious.

Health concerns and considerations will play a role in what position we choose to sleep in. Somebody experiencing chronic back pain, for example, will be keen to keep pressure off their spine overnight. In this regard, sleeping positions can drastically influence health.

Can I Change My Sleeping Position?

Everybody typically changes their sleep position multiple times in the night, and it’s rare for anybody to lay statue-still for their entire eight hours in bed, after all. If you find the perfect sleeping position before dozing off, you may enjoy better rest overall.

If you want to change your default sleeping position, you’ll need to train yourself to do so. This may be challenging. When we’re exhausted and ready for bed, we automatically assume a position we find comforting. Changing this position may bolster health, though.

For the most part, changing your sleeping position is a case of practice makes perfect. You should keep taking up this new posture, even considering the occasional nap, to gain more experience. Prop yourself up and lock yourself into position with pillows, if necessary.

Speaking of pillows, you may need to get sleeping peripherals if you change position. Specialist pillows and mattresses are designed for varying positions. Maximize your comfort – and by extension, good health – by matching your apparatus to your preferred position.

what is the most healthy position to sleep in?

Can Sleeping Positions Influence Health?

There’s no denying that your sleep position can influence health. Most pertinently, sleeping posture will dictate the quality of your rest. If you’re in an uncomfortable position, you’ll understandably struggle to enjoy a whole, uninterrupted night of slumber.

Finding the perfect sleep position can also ease and reduce any symptoms of day-to-day ailments, though. If you struggle with back pain, relieving the pressure on your spine by adjusting a sleeping position will likely help. Other conditions can also be aided.

The opposite can be true. Be mindful of the position that you adopt while sleeping, as poor nocturnal posture can lead to more than just insomnia. Acid reflux and other digestive concerns can become ongoing issues if you adopt a less-than-ideal sleeping position.

What is the Most Healthy Position to Sleep in?

There’s no such thing as one perfect sleeping position for everybody, so there’s no single, default ‘healthiest’ sleeping position. Many factors play into finding the ideal position to sleep in.

We all have unique circumstances that dictate our preferences:

  • Somebody carrying extra weight will be better off sleeping on their side, as it’s easier to breathe.
  • If you’re prone to needing to pee in the night, sleeping on the back may be healthier as it reduces pressure on the bladder
  • Some people are most comfortable sleeping on their stomach. If this leads to a good night’s sleep, it’s undeniably a health boon

Overall, the healthiest position for anybody to sleep in is the one that provides the most high-quality, uninterrupted slumber.

It can take a little trial and error to find this position, so let’s review the health advantages of each.

Sleeping on the Back

Back sleeping (supine position) has mixed results.

Some people find sleeping on the back comfortable, especially as it takes up little space. Others cannot control their snoring or sleep apnea issues while on their back.

If you like to sleep on your back, it’s important to distribute weight equally throughout a mattress. If you have backache when you wake up, train yourself to sleep in a different position – or upgrade your mattress to a model with more springs and thus greater support.

Back sleeping is not for everybody, so do not force yourself into this position, especially if you’re prone to snoring. That can be seriously detrimental to a partner’s sleep routines.

If you take to the supine position, though, it can boost and bolster health.

Nasal Blockages

Do you breathe through your nose or mouth when in the comfort of your bed? If you answered with the latter, is that because you have nasal congestion? Sleeping on your back may be beneficial.

It’s advisable to breathe through the nose when sleeping, as doing so allows a greater quantity of oxygen to enter the blood, enhancing the performance of the organs and muscles. The supine position, elevating the upper back with a pillow if necessary, makes this easier.

Clearing your airways will also reduce pressure on the head, leaving you less likely to struggle with headaches. This all amounts to a simple equation – keeping the nasal passages open means a longer, more relaxing sleep.

Joint, Muscular and Lumbar Pain

Pain can be one the biggest obstacles to high-quality sleep, as it’s likely to keep us awake – or unwillingly rouse us from slumber at a moment’s notice. If you experience discomfort in the neck, muscles, shoulders, or lumbar regions, back sleeping can help.

As explained, adopting the supine position on a superior mattress leads to an even distribution of weight and pressure points throughout the spine. That keeps weight off any sore or injured body parts.

Neck pain, in particular, is best managed through sleeping on the back. As explained by the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, what is known as the ‘soldier position’ – lying flat on the back, arms straight at the sides – prevents movement in the neck muscles.

Nocturia (Urinating in the Night)

Few things can be more frustrating than needing to urinate multiple times in the night. Known as nocturia, this ailment grows increasingly commonplace as we grow older. Sleeping on your back can reduce the need for bathroom breaks, though.

By sleeping on your back, you’ll not put any pressure on your bladder. So, you’ll still need to urinate if you wake up for any other reason. A full bladder is less likely to rouse you from your sleep, though.

Sleeping on your back will not resolve any health concern that leaves you needing to pee in the night. If your comfort breaks result from diabetes or an enlarged prostate, no sleeping position will make a difference.

Skincare

None of us enjoys the idea of facial wrinkles, and many of us dedicate significant time and resources to slowing the aging process. Adopting the supine position can aid a skincare regime.

If you choose to sleep with your face on a pillow, fluid rushes to and pools within the area. This makes the skin puffy and potentially leads to bags under the eyes. Less pressure placed on your skin also means less opportunity for skin to wrinkle.

Of course, sleeping on your back also brings other advantages to a skincare regime. Skin sweats while we rest, but remaining on your back prevents perspiration from pooling. You’ll even avoid staining the pillow if you forget to remove your makeup before bed. 

Sleeping on the Side

The most significant benefit of sleeping on the side revolves around breathing.

Most side sleepers find it easier to breathe overnight, making this position safer for anybody with sleep apnea. Side sleeping is also great for bad backs, reducing pressure on the spine.

Sleeping on the side can lead to different difficulties, though. If you have historical pain or injuries in your shoulder, hip, or other muscles, they can be aggravated while you doze. Position yourself accordingly to minimize the impact on any such pressure points.

Sleeping on the side – especially in the so-called fetal position – remains popular. It could be considered the healthiest sleeping position thanks to easy breathing.

It’s unlikely to disturb a partner, possibly even encouraging the release of positive hormones. 

Pregnancy

Finding a comfortable sleeping position while pregnant can become challenging.

It’s often tempting to sleep on the back to keep pressure off the stomach. As per Early Human Development, this can negatively impact the heart.

Healthcare professionals advise pregnant women to sleep on their side, bending the knees. This keeps the belly safe, ensuring that the increasingly enlarged stomach is not accidentally rolled onto. It also maintains healthy hemodynamics for mother and baby alike.

If possible, pregnant sleepers should aim to rest on the left-hand side. This keeps pressure off the liver, a vital organ during the gestation of a child. Switching to the right occasionally is fine, though, especially if the left hip is starting to hurt.

Consider applying a cushion or pillow for additional protection.

what are some good sleeping positions?

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring and sleep apnea are the bane of many lives, including the partners of people that live with the condition. Medical intervention is often needed when treating sleep apnea, but as per Sleep Medicine Reviews, sleeping on the side can have a positive impact.

While back sleeping opens the nasal passages, sleeping on the side allows more air into the lungs. This reduces the impact of apnea, making it less dangerous. As a result, this could be considered a healthier sleeping position.

Even if somebody is not living with severe sleep apnea, snoring can be reduced by up to 50% by sleeping on the side. This will be a significant relief to anybody that sleeps alongside a snorer, improving their mental and physical health as a consequence.

Back Pain

We have mentioned how sleeping on the back can reduce aches and pains in the body. What if the pain revolves around the spine? The impact of a damaged back can be relieved by sleeping on the side.

This is especially relevant if you cannot access a superior mattress. Sleeping on the side keeps pressure off pressure points on the spine. Box yourself into position with pillows to keep yourself on your side and slip a cushion between the knees to maximize comfort.

Sleeping on your side won’t cure long-term damage to the spine unless it’s a simple case of impact bruising that will ease with time. If you keep off your back while sleeping, you’ll stand a greater chance of feeling refreshed in the morning.

Sleeping on the Stomach

While sleeping on the side is popular, Nature and Science of Sleep explain that sleeping on the stomach is comparatively rare in adults. It is believed that only around 10% of people enjoy this posture, referred to as the prone position.

Sleeping on the stomach rarely offers any health benefits, but it opens the airways, which can help with breathing and sleep apnea. Alas, sleeping on the stomach also defies the laws of gravity. Sleeping this way takes energy, which you’ll likely feel in the morning. Front sleeping can result in waking up feeling unrested.

You risk a crick in the neck by sleeping on the stomach, as you’ll have no choice but to twist your face to one side. This can eventually cause misalignment with the spine, resulting in pain throughout the body. Low-quality mattresses magnify this concern.

Despite this, some people find sleeping on the stomach comfortable. Consider supporting your chest with a soft cushion if this applies to you. Equally, look into the possibility of purchasing a specialist pillow designed for front sleepers.

Preferred sleeping positions can be quite a personal decision, and the healthiest posture will always be the one that encourages high-quality, uninterrupted sleep. Pay attention to how you feel upon waking, though. All manner of minor, everyday health complaints could be eased with a shift in sleep position.