Quality sleep is essential for overall well-being, and the way you position yourself during slumber can significantly impact the quality of your rest. Clinical research has shed light on the ideal sleep positions for different individuals, taking into account their unique needs and preferences. In this article, we will explore the findings of clinical research to help you discover the best sleep positions to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
Last Updated: October 31, 2023
The most common sleep position for people is that of the back sleeper according to a study conducted by the National Institute for Health. Their findings indicate that over 50% of people sleep on their backs throughout the night. For more information about back sleeping, read on:
What is the Best Sleep Position for Back Pain?
Sleeping on your back is often touted as one of the healthiest sleep positions. Clinical research supports this notion, as it helps maintain the natural alignment of the spine. Back sleeping can alleviate pressure on the joints, reducing the risk of developing back pain and orthopedic issues. It also minimizes the chances of developing facial wrinkles and acne due to the absence of contact between the face and the pillow. To enhance this position, use a supportive pillow that cradles the head and neck.
How Can I Stop Snoring When Sleeping on My Back?
Snoring is a very common occurrence, one that most people will experience at some point in their lives. Depending on the severity of your snoring and other symptoms, your doctor may want to conduct a sleep study. Sleep studies may sometimes be done at home according to The Mayo Clinic. The most common suggestions for stopping snoring are to manage weight, avoid alcohol close to bedtime, treat nasal congestion, and outright avoid sleeping on your back. For chronic snorers, adding an adjustable base to your bed to raise your upper torso to promote better breathing can also help.
Does Sleeping on Your Back Reduce the Risk of Acid Reflux?
No. The ideal sleep position for those who suffer from acid reflux is on their side, specifically their left side. Sleeping in other positions, including on your back, can make reflux more likely according to The Sleep Foundation. However, for those who are only ever comfortable on their back and also suffer from acid reflux, it is recommended to add an adjustable base to raise your upper torso to limit reflux flare-ups.
Who Benefits the Most From Sleeping on Their Backs?
- Those who suffer from lower back pain
- Neck pain sufferers
- Anyone with excessive nasal congestion
- People who want to avoid skin issues like acne or wrinkles
Side sleeping is another popular position, and clinical research indicates it may be the best choice for those who snore or suffer from sleep apnea. This position can help keep the airways open and reduce the likelihood of snoring or experiencing sleep apnea symptoms. Additionally, side sleeping can alleviate symptoms of acid reflux by allowing gravity to keep stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. To optimize this position, use a supportive pillow that keeps your head and neck aligned with your spine.
Is Sleeping on Your Right Side Bad for Your Health?
For those who suffer from heartburn, acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), sleeping on their right side is not ideal. Otherwise, it’s a matter of a person’s preference. If sleeping on your right side is comfortable, and you do not suffer from any adverse effects, then it is just fine to do so.
Can Sleeping on My Left Side Improve Digestion?
Yes, sleeping on your left side can improve digestion. This position uses gravity to help food and waste move through your digestive system more efficiently. It can also reduce heartburn by keeping stomach acid lower in the esophagus. Gravity helps push stomach acid back down to where it belongs. Plus, the stomach’s natural position is on the left side.
How to Improve Sleep Quality if I Sleep on My Side?
Be sure to use a pillow that is designed for side sleepers. Your neck makes up 30% of your total spine length and proper support of your head aligns your spine for proper support. The right mattress can distinguish between a night of tossing and turning and the best night’s sleep you’ve ever experienced. Try to sleep primarily on your left side as this is the most ideal side sleeping position. You may also want to include a pillow between your knees to aid in pressure relief and spinal alignment.
Who Benefits the Most From Sleeping on Their Side?
- Pregnant women
- Sufferers of acid reflux
- Elderly people
- Those diagnosed with sleep apnea
- Middle to upper-back pain sufferers
Sleeping on your stomach is generally considered less ideal from an orthopedic perspective, as it can strain the neck and spine, leading to pain and discomfort. Research by The Cleveland Clinic suggests that stomach sleeping can also contribute to developing facial wrinkles due to the constant contact between the face and the pillow. If you prefer this position, try using a flat pillow to minimize the strain on your neck and spine.
Should You Sleep on Your Stomach?
No, you should not. Your choice of sleep position can either decrease or increase spinal pain. In the case of sleeping on your stomach, invariably, back pain is increased due to improper spinal alignment. Additionally, when sleeping on your stomach, your face is often compressed onto your pillow which increases the chance of wrinkles and skin conditions like acne. In the case of infants, the Academy of Pediatrics recommends only ever placing babies on their backs to sleep.
Is it Safe to Sleep on My Stomach During Pregnancy?
According to Standford University’s Medicine Department, sleeping on your stomach in the early stages of pregnancy is safe, if it’s comfortable. However, eventually, that position will become uncomfortable due to the baby’s growth. The best sleep position for pregnant women is invariably on your side with as many pillows as necessary to achieve maximum comfort.
How Do I Prevent Wrinkles From Sleeping on My Face?
The easy answer is also the most obvious: don’t sleep on your face/stomach. If you find that you always wake up and you were sleeping on your face then the only suggestion is to stick to a facial treatment routine to help avoid wrinkles. Also, change your sheets, or at least your pillowcases regularly.
Who Benefits the Most From Sleeping on Their Stomach?
- Nobody (Seriously!)
Many people switch between various sleep positions during the night, and research indicates that this combination of sleeping styles is perfectly acceptable. However, individuals should be mindful of their body’s cues and comfort, ensuring they shift to positions that promote better rest.
What Mattress Should I Get if My Sleep Partner And I Have Different Sleep Positions?
In this case, it is often best to opt for a medium-feeling mattress so that it can meet both your comfort and support needs. When two people with very different comfort preferences sleep in the same bed, the right mattress differentiates between a restless night and a great night’s sleep. In the case of kids, oftentimes mattress manufacturers design beds with different comforts in the same collection. This makes it easy to find something similar to one another.
What is the Recommended Sleep Position For People With Arthritis?
There isn’t one specific position that is the most ideal for arthritis sufferers. Comfort and relief from pain are the determining factors for the best sleep position for arthritis. Sometimes, changing positions can help to relieve the pain of arthritis after a few hours in the first position. So, for the sake of answering this question, arthritic people would consider trying a combination of sleep positions to find what’s best for them.
Who Benefits the Most From Combination Position Sleeping?
- Sleep partners with different comfort preferences
- Severe back pain sufferers
- Those recovering from a surgical procedure
- Arthritic individuals
In conclusion, clinical research underscores the importance of selecting the right sleep position to ensure a restful night’s sleep. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the ideal sleep position can vary from person to person based on their unique needs and preferences. Back sleeping is considered one of the healthiest positions for spinal alignment, while side sleeping is recommended for those who snore or experience sleep apnea. Ultimately, the best position is the one that allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Listening to your body and its signals is the key to finding your ideal sleep position.