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How Your Sleeping Position Can Affect Your Health

By Brian Acton

We’ve all felt the benefits of a good night of sleep, as well as the dragging feeling the day after tossing and turning all night. Getting the generally recommended time to sleep – 8 hours – has a tremendous effect on our physiological health. A good night’s rest can reduce stress and make you happier, healthier, and more productive. But what about the way you sleep? Specifically, your sleeping position? Turns out, your body’s overnight position can impact several aspects of your health – including your spine, sleep quality, and posture. Read on to find out how your sleeping position can make the difference between a painful and pain-free body. On Your Back Sleeping on your back, arms at your sides, is generally recommended as the preferred sleeping position. If you avoid using too many pillows, sleeping this way is good for your spine and neck. The downside is that if you snore or suffer from sleep apnea, sleeping on your back can worsen symptoms. If you sleep on your back with your arms up (hands at or above your head’s level), you should try lowering your arms when you sleep – this position can negatively impact your shoulder joints. On Your Stomach While sleeping face down on your stomach can be good for your digestion, it’s much more likely to develop neck pain. This is because stomach-sleepers tend to tilt their head to the left or right side so they can breathe, putting stress on the neck. This position is also not ideal for the spine. The Fetal Position The fetal position is not recommended. While many people consider the most comfortable positions, our adult bodies were not meant to curve in such a way for extended periods of time. The fetal position can do damage to your neck and back. On Your Side There are a number of different variations to sleeping on your side – arms outstretched, arms flat, on your left or right side – but the advantage to all of them is that they support the spine, aren’t hard on the neck, and they alleviate snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. Some studies have suggested that sleeping on the right side can exacerbate heartburn, while sleeping on the left side can put strain on your organs. So, if you’re a side-sleeper, it can help to switch your dominant side up to lessen the negative effects. Conclusion As you’ve likely surmised, there is no perfect sleeping position – they all have their positives and negatives. However, after weighing the options, sleeping on the back or the sides seems to have the most positive outcomes for your neck and back. What is recommended, no matter the position, is to have the right pillow to for support. For instance, back sleepers should put a pillow beneath their spinal arch while side sleepers should hold a pillow between their knees. If you’re experiencing aches and pains – especially in your neck and back – think about the position you take when you’re nodding off. It could be contributing to your well being more than you’d expect. Sources: http://www.menshealth.com/health/sleep-position-master http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/multimedia/sleeping-positions/sls-20076452?sl=?&slide=3 http://dailyhealthpost.com/8-sleeping-positions-and-their-effects-on-health/
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