Believe it or not, how one sleeps can affect the quality of sleep and health. Improper sleep posture can aggravate conditions like fatigue, sleep apnoea, headache, heartburn, and also back pain.
Which is the best sleeping position?
Everyone has his or her own preferred sleeping posture, but no matter what position one is in, the ideal sleep posture is determined by the position of the spine it maintains. A good sleep posture helps an individual maintain the curve in the back.
An individual’s sleeping posture might appear comfortable, but could be causing back and neck pain. Here are the different sleeping positions for the body, their pros and cons, along with positions one must avoid:
The back posture
Considered the most ideal sleep posture, sleeping with the back resting on the mattress helps prevent neck and back pain, reduces the chances of acid reflux, and also minimises wrinkles due to minimum friction of face with mattress.
The back posture gives adequate rest to the head and neck, while keeping the spine in a neutral position, without forcing any extra curves on the spine. A pillow can be used for providing support to the head and neck, but care must be taken to not prop the head too high.
The side sleep posture
Sleeping on the side is the second best posture while sleeping. It helps prevent neck and back pain and also reduces the chances of acid reflux. It is especially helpful for women during pregnancy to maintain regular blood flow.
Sleeping on the side is considered good for overall health as it keeps the spine in an elongated position while minimising snoring. A thick pillow can help fill the space above the shoulder and the neck, keeping them in a relaxed, neutral position.
The curled up, on the side, foetal position is good for pregnant women but is harmful for those looking to prevent or reduce back and neck pain. Sleeping with knees pulled up high and chin tucked in the chest can cause discomfort in people dealing with arthritic back or joints. Those who involuntary turn to the foetal position at night can try readjusting with loosening the curl and extending their body a little more. A thick pillow is ideal for providing head and neck support for this sleep posture.
Stomach sleep posture
Sleeping with the stomach facing the mattress should be avoided as it makes it difficult for the body to keep the spine in a neutral position. Further, the pose places pressure on joints and muscles, which can cause irritation of nerves, leading to pain, numbness and tingling.
The discomfort of lying on the stomach can be understood by imagining the neck kept turned for fifteen continuous minutes in a day. Sleeping through the night in that pose will cause excess strain to the neck. For those who still prefer to sleep on the stomach, a thin pillow or no pillow may be used.
Sleeping with back pain
Sleeping can be difficult for those dealing with back pain. The best positions for exerting minimum stress to the back and neck are as follows:
- Sleeping on the side with a pillow placed between the knees. The top leg should be placed on the pillow right above the bottom leg, and slipping should be avoided. A small, rolled-up towel may also be placed under the waist.
- Sleeping on the back with a pillow placed under the knees. For extra comfort, a small, rolled-up towel can be placed under the curve of the back.
Rising from the bed in the morning
A person waking up in the morning must roll onto the side and bend both knees. The feet should be dropped over the side of the bed and a simultaneous push of both arms can be used to sit up. The back must be in a neutral position while standing up.
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