2 min.

27 April 2022

How’d You Sleep? – Why Your Sleeping Position Matters

It is a medical fact that the way your body is arranged when you sleep will have an effect on the quality of your sleep.1 Whether that effect is negative or positive is both an individual matter (different strokes for different folks, after all) and a studied phenomenon. Keep reading to find out which position works right for your needs! 

Really, the most important aspect in all of this is figuring out how best to avoid the plethora of sleeping problems plaguing the sleepy-weepy generations today. Carefully curating your sleeping position is one of the easiest ways to change your habits. We’ve compiled the three main sleeping positions so you can implement the option that is best for you. It’s our little pet initiative to keep the global average of grumpiness as low as possible.  

Now, to the meat of it all – what are the three most common sleeping positions, and what do they do for us? 

Sleeping on your back is the best position for posture and shoulder impingement.  

But, like, why? Apparently, this position distributes your weight across your body, minimizing pressure points and optimally lining up your internal organs.  

Back-sleeping is known to improve spinal alignment, especially with buffers like memory foam underneath your neck to protect the natural curve of the backbone.2 

So, I guess we should just lay down and close our eyes. Problem solved! Right? No? Okay. Let’s learn.  

Pros 

When a person sleeps on their back, it allows them to go into the body’s natural alignment, protected by the even weight distribution. Think of it as standing, but laying down as you do so. It comes naturally for many. By sleeping this way, you will put no undue pressure on any individual part of the body. Therefore, a person who sleeps on their back will be less likely to suffer from muscle aches (that’s the idea, at least). 

Cons 

While back sleeping is good for helping people reduce muscle strain, it is not a good idea for people with obstructive sleep apnea. This is because sleeping on your back can cause the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway (yikes), making it hard for you to breathe and making you even more prone to the debilitations of sleep apnea. Sigh, why does every silver lining have a cloud?  

On a lighter note, let’s see some tips for you lovely back sleepers! 

Tips From Our Sleep Expert (Yes, There Are Sleep Experts) 
  • Put a small pillow under your knees to support your spine and the natural curve in your lower back.
  • Use your head pillow to support your neck, shoulders, and back.
  • Use specially-formulated foam neck pillows to support your head and neck contour in this position. 
  • Prop up your head with more pillows if you have a cold.

Ah, the old side balancing act. It’s a crowd favorite. A 2017 study surveyed 664 adults and found that 54.1% of the respondents3 preferred to sleep on their side. Agreeability aside (hah), many different studies have also proven that sleeping on the side is the best position for quality breath control and reduction in the risks of snoring, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, and heartburn, etc.  

Now, that’s our kind of position. It especially makes sense if you snore. We are almost sure that snoring isn't as popular as it used to be.   

Isn’t that great news? Side sleepers unite! 

Pros 

Side-sleeping is the second-most healthy sleeping position, right after back sleeping. It improves circulation to the heart and blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys, among other things. Also, if you suffer from sleep apnea or other obstructive sleep disorders, switching to sleeping on your side may help you clear up your most prominent symptoms. 

Cons 

While sleeping on your side may be the second-most optimal sleep position, it still has its downsides. That’s why it doesn’t rank highest in health.  

Sleeping on your side may disrupt circulation under the side you are sleeping on, and cause lines to form on your face because of the added weight from sleeping on your side. Consistent side sleeping can also thin the skin and decrease its elasticity as we age.  

Now, I might be biased, but I think we can all agree that this position is the best. And, we can avoid the ‘cons’ by just switching sides every few hours. 

Tips From Our Sleep Expert 
  • Place a firm pillow between your knees to prevent your hip and knee joints from collapsing and reduce stress on your hips and lower back.
  • Put a small pillow between your waist and mattress if there is a gap to support your body further.

Okay, so this one caught us by surprise. We knew some odd people liked doing this to relax but we didn't know entire populations hugged their mattresses every night. 

Lying face down while you sleep is not the best position for your posture as it stresses your neck, constricts your blood, and compresses your spine (no kidding). However, sleeping on your stomach or the prone position does have its advantages. It stops your heart and stomach from pressing down on your lungs, allowing your air sacks to inflate fully.  

Various studies have shown that lying prone helps COVID-19 patients with alarmingly low oxygen levels breathe better while seeking proper treatment. People with sleep apnea also prefer sleeping on their stomachs since it helps them sleep better.  

Okay, maybe we were a little harsh. You do you, stomach sleepers! 

Pros 

Only a handful of people may find this position comfortable and conducive to sleep. It may not be a good idea to sleep in this position regularly. However, if you are looking to get rid of symptoms related to sleep apnea, sleeping on your stomach occasionally will help. The word to focus on is ‘occasionally’.  

Cons 

This position may be challenging on your back and neck and may have you waking up feeling strained or stiff. Also, it may affect the alignment of your spine, which may open up a can of worms in terms of health problems. Since sleeping on your stomach isn’t good for posture, stretching can help you avoid risks for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. 

Please don’t sleep on your stomach regularly.  

Tips From Our Sleep Expert 
  • Put a flat pillow under your stomach and pelvis area to keep your spine aligned.
  • When supporting your head, either use a flat pillow or one that is adjustable to your needs. This will ensure that your neck and head will be less angled while you sleep. 

Remember when we talked about switching sides if you’re a side sleeper? You can include other positions in this routine switch-up as well to avoid feeling strain and pain upon waking up. It’s best to consider what you find comfortable, and take into account any medical conditions you may have. 

Experts suggest that there is an ideal sleep position for all of us. Finding a comfortable position for you that will not wake you into a state of discomfort, feeling more tired than before you went to sleep, is the key. And yes, we would all appreciate it if you would help us keep the average grumpiness levels low. Sleep well! 

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The Role of Technology in Helping and Hurting Your Sleep

We’ve all heard claims of how technology has interfered with our ability to sleep well. Many say that the light from the screens hurt our ability to sleep quickly and deeply, while others say that the distraction that technology frequently creates hurts sleep quality. While some of these claims are true, simply saying that tech is bad for sleep is false! After all, technology encompasses so many different devices than the typical laptop or phone. Other technologies out there exist that are created to facilitate better sleep!

8 Science-Backed Tips for Better Sleep

It’s well-established that getting quality sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise. But despite its importance, over the past few decades, people’s sleep quality and quantity have declined with a troubling percentage of 33% among adults not getting enough proper sleep. Many are seeking the best tips for better sleep because poor sleep has immediate negative psychical and mental impacts on health

Sleep Meditation: Secret to Better Sleep

Have you ever experienced trouble in falling asleep?  You close your eyes but your mind keeps spinning so you cannot fall asleep? Well, sometimes our minds just won’t stop bothering us – and that’s where meditation can help. To fall asleep, our body and mind need to calm down and relax. Sounds simple, right? However, many people find this utterly difficult to do. Meditation, as a relaxation technique, may help you to quiet your body and mind while enhancing inner peace and balance. This is especially useful when you start focusing on worrisome thoughts at night in bed a time when you are not as easily distracted by other things as during the day.

How to ensure your baby is safe as they sleep

By now you know that babies have a crazy tendency of sleeping in various bizarre positions. Some might even seem funny, but it’s always better to ensure they sleep in positions where they are not just comfortablr, but also safe. Since babies spend 70% of their time asleep, let’s look at simple precautions one can take as a parent to ensure safe sleep for your baby. Here at Sleep Science, we recommend the following safe sleep guidelines to reduce, for instance, the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

8 Science-Backed Tips for Better Sleep

It’s well-established that getting quality sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise. But despite its importance, over the past few decades, people’s sleep quality and quantity have declined with a troubling percentage of 33% among adults not getting enough proper sleep. Many are seeking the best tips for better sleep because poor sleep has immediate negative psychical and mental impacts on health

How to ensure your baby is safe as they sleep

By now you know that babies have a crazy tendency of sleeping in various bizarre positions. Some might even seem funny, but it’s always better to ensure they sleep in positions where they are not just comfortablr, but also safe. Since babies spend 70% of their time asleep, let’s look at simple precautions one can take as a parent to ensure safe sleep for your baby. Here at Sleep Science, we recommend the following safe sleep guidelines to reduce, for instance, the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Product Review: White Noise Machines

Have you ever experienced trying to sleep with a lot of background noise, only to find out you are unable to? We are sure you’ve tried options like putting on earplugs or stuffing your head under the pillow, which probably did not work as good as you had hoped. Thankfully, white noise machines have recently been made available to help troubled sleepers ignore disruptive background noise so they can sleep peacefully. Sleep Science wants to help everyone get the best night’s sleep. That’s why we have reviewed and tested some popular white noise machines to help you drown out the noise that keeps interrupting your sleep. But first, let’s get you informed on what these machines can do.

Product Review: Philips Smart Lightbulb

It is now well-known: light is one of the essential elements in our sleep-wake cycle. Indeed, the type of light present in the environment is connected to producing different kinds of chemical compounds. To understand this, we can take a look at the diurnal variation of light. While there is more bluish light, we are more inclined to produce excitatory hormones (first and foremost cortisol). On the other hand, during the late afternoon, when the light is reddish - hormones are linked to more relaxing effects (i.e., melatonin). Notably, the production of hormones affects our sleep-wake cycle and interacts with our mood, emotions, and feelings. In other words, the type of light surrounding us, and therefore the type and quantity of hormones produced, influence our mental life. The reasons listed above make it clear why many sleep experts recommend meticulous care in setting home lightings, particularly in the bedroom.