Unfortunately, our favorite sleep positions could end up causing health problems, ranging from aches to sleep apnea. Below are some pros and cons of common ways to sleep, and easy tips on making each position a little bit better for you.
This position is the most popular way to sleep and is favored by more than 4 out of 10 people, especially among women, which are two times more likely than men to sleep curled up on their side.
It's a great way to sleep, it allows your spine to rest in its natural alignment. Recent research on animals also suggests that your brain does a better job of clearing waste that can lead to these neurological diseases when you're sleeping on your side rather than on your back or stomach.
The fetal position is also good for pregnant women. You should stick to lying on your left side while expecting. It can improve circulation to your growing baby and helps prevent your uterus from pressing against your liver.
Make it healthier: Stretch out just a bit. Pulling your body into a tight ball or curling forward too much can limit your lungs and diaphragm. A relaxed back encourages easy breathing.
This position is sleeping on your side with both arms down, and close to your body. 15% of people prefer to sleep in the log position. Which is great because it's good for your health.
Resting on your side, with your back mostly straight, can help cut down on sleep apnea. It can also help your neck and back pain since your spine stays aligned.
Make it healthier: Place a pillow or folded blanket between your knees to ease pressure on your hips.
As if sinking into the clouds, you're lying on your stomach with your arms tucked under your pillow or on either side of your head.
It may seem cozy when you're snuggling into bed, but sleeping on your stomach can lead to low back and neck pain. You're also more likely to toss and turn as you try to get comfortable on your belly than while in other positions.
Make it healthier: Avoid a stiff pillow. It can place your neck in an uncomfortable angle and cause pain. Try propping a softer pillow under your forehead, and sleep facing the mattress, rather than turning your head to one side. This will help keep your airway open.
Flat on your back and arms on your side can cause snoring, which affects 50% of all adults at some point. Snoring isn't just annoying but can disrupt your sleep and lead to thickening and problems with the carotid artery, which supplies blood to your brain, face, and neck.
This position also isn't a good choice if you're prone to sleep apnea -- shallow breathing or pauses in your breath that prevents restful sleep.
One positive is this position can help acid reflux.
Make it healthier: To avoid aches in this face-up position, place a pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees. It supports the natural curve of your spine and can lower your chances of back pain.
If you're snoring or have sleep apnea, it's best to sleep on your side.
Your legs are spread apart arms are bent up on either side of your head and laying on your back.
Like the "soldier," this position can help with acid reflux, but also makes you more likely to snore and can aggravate sleep apnea.
Make it healthier: Place a pillow under your knees before you sleep. If your mattress is soft or worn out, swap it out for a firm one. Support for your spine will help you avoid back pain as well.
Make a Change?
If you haven't been sleeping well and want to try a new position to see if it helps, be patient. A habit like that can take a while to change, especially if you've been hitting the sack the same way for years.
Invest in a new supportive mattress, if you're wanting to sleep on your back, or a contour pillow for between your knees, if you're switching to your side.