Sleeping Postures for Health

By on April 4, 2014
sleeping position

We all have a preference for a certain sleeping position. Maybe we sleep well in that position or we see good dreams in that posture or that particular position is easy on our body to rest.

Whatever the case may be, everyone has a certain position that they prefer to sleep in. Some people are side-sleepers while others prefer to sleep on their back or stomach. But some sleep positions can be better for you than others, depending on what kind of ailment you may have. If you are suffering from back pain, acid reflux or another health problem, read on to find out what sleeping position is best for you.

Positions for Back Pain

Many people suffer from back pain, which can make even the simplest tasks, such as sitting or sleeping, difficult. Sleeping in the wrong position can exacerbate back pain or cause back pain in those who don’t typically have it. If you suffer from any of the following types of back pain, try sleeping in these positions:

  • Herniated disk: If you have a herniated disk, particularly a paracentral herniated disk, try sleeping on your stomach as it will alleviate the disks of pressure. A side position may be more comfortable if you have a foraminal herniated disk.
  • Degenerative disk disease: A stomach position may also be comfortable for people who suffer from degenerative disk disease. Placing a flat pillow beneath the pelvis can further relieve pressure, making this position more comfortable.
  • Osteoarthritis: Since this condition affects the joints, the most comfortable position is the fetal position, which takes the pressure off of the joints in the spine. Sleeping with your legs elevated can also help relieve the pressure.
  • Spinal stenosis: This condition involves the compression of the spinal cord or spinal nerve. To alleviate the pain this compression causes, curl-up in the fetal position. For extra comfort, sleep with your head and knees elevated.

Positions for Other Ailments

  • Bursitis: People who have bursitis of the hips or other kinds of hip pain should feel the most comfort by sleeping on their side with a pillow wedged between their knees. This will take the pressure off of the pelvis.
  • Acid reflux: Sleeping on your side or even on your stomach can prevent acid reflux, which can be exacerbated by sleeping on your back.
  • Digestion: Sleeping on your stomach with your arms raised can help your digestive system.
  • Snoring: Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are specially designed pillows available to help prevent snoring by making sure your neck muscles are not crimped. Sleep on your side. Avoid sleeping on your back, as gravity makes it more likely for your tongue and soft tissues to drop and obstruct your airway.
  • Hip pain: If you are suffering from any sort of hip pain, you should prefer sleeping on your side. A pillow between your knees will take the pressure off your pelvis.
  • Headache: The best possible position for you would be the traditional back or side position which allows the blood to circulate easily in all parts of the body.
  • Neck pain: Either on their side or in their back but the pillow must be placed Ina correct position. Avoid sleeping in stomach.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Side or stomach, sleeping on your back can be dangerous –potentially causing breathing interruptions from lockage interruptions from blockage or narrowing of the airways.

Positions During Pregnancy

Sleeping on your back is generally not recommended during pregnancy, particularly during the later months, because the weight of your uterus presses on your spine, intestines and major blood vessels. Aside from leading to backache, this can reduce circulation to your baby as well as lead to low blood pressure and problems with breathing and digestive upset. Sleeping on your stomach will also become uncomfortable in the later months of pregnancy.

So the best position overall during pregnancy is on your side, and particularly on your left side. This optimizes circulation and blood flow, increasing the amount of nutrients that reach your placenta and baby, while also allowing you to support your back, knees and stomach with pillows.

girl sleeping positons

Healthy Sleep Positions

The Best: Back position

Sleeping on your back prevents neck and back pain, reduces acid reflux, minimizes wrinkles, and helps maintain perky breasts. However, it is a bad position in terms of snoring.

Next Best: Side position

Sleeping on your side also prevents neck and back pain and reduces acid reflux, and it also reduces snoring. It is the best position for sleeping during pregnancy, if you sleep on your left side. However, it can be bad for your skin and your breasts.

Not Ideal: Fetal position

It is good for snoring less and sleeping during pregnancy, but it is not so good for neck and back pain, minimizing wrinkles, or maintaining your breasts.

The Worst: Stomach position

It is good for easing snoring, but it is bad for everything else. The pose puts pressure on your joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, and tingling.

More Position Tips

  • The ideal way to sleep is without a pillow, but if you must use a pillow, make sure it is compatible with the position you sleep in. For example, if you sleep on your side, find a firm, flat pillow that won’t elongate one side of your neck. If you need to sleep on your back, use a fluffy pillow that won’t push your head and neck forward. If you need to sleep on your stomach, try sleeping on a thin pillow, or don’t use a pillow at all.
  • To avoid putting pressure on your organs, sleep on your right side instead of your left side.
  • When you sleep on your back, elevate your knees and head. Roll up a small towel or T-shirt and place it under your head and place a pillow underneath your knees to give them extra height. This position should be very comfortable for people with lower back problems.
  • If you need to sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs to prevent any pain in your hips or lower back.
  • If you sleep on your stomach, try sleeping on a body pillow to make this position more comfortable.

There are specific positions that can reduce the symptoms of the problem you are dealing with. Each position can pose other health concerns if not used in the correct way. Hope this article has thrown some light on sleeping positions and you should have no problem drifting off to sleep.

Image courtesy: scheidenpilz.com , blogspot.com

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