Getting a sound night’s sleep is an incredibly important part of optimizing your health and well-being, and one facet of restful sleep is the position in which you sleep. Most people naturally favor one sleep position over another, and it’s perfectly natural to listen to your body in this respect.
Whether you prefer sleeping on your back, side, stomach or somewhere in between, as long as that position equates to a good night’s sleep for you — and allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free — go ahead with it. If, on the other hand, you’re waking up with back and neck pain, or struggling with snoring or acid reflux, adjusting your sleep position may help. Your chosen sleep position could be giving you back and neck pain, stomach troubles, or can even be aging you prematurely:
Best: Sleeping on your back, your head, neck and spine maintain a neutral position back prevents neck and back pain, reduces acid reflux, and reduces wrinkles. However, it is a bad position in terms of snoring. When sleeping on your back virtually no pillow (or next to nothing) is essentially best for your spine. Using a thick pillow will actually reduce some of the benefit of back sleeping. For example, this will mold your head and neck into a forward head translation and may also impact your breathing.
Next Best: Side position. Sleeping on your side also prevents neck and back pain and reduces acid reflux, and it also reduces snoring. It’s the best position for sleeping during pregnancy, if you sleep on your left side (because you want the liver side up and also to optimize circulation and blood flow to placenta). However, it may be bad for your wrinkles. Side sleeping also allows your spine to stay in a reasonably neutral position while helping to reduce snoring issues (if this is an issue for you). However, the downside is if you like to put your hand under your head while in this position it can compress nerves in your shoulder and arm, making your fingers numb. Side sleeping may also experience some tightness in your shoulder and neck muscles.
Not a Good Idea: Fetal position. It’s good for snoring less and sleeping during pregnancy, but it’s not so good for neck and back pain, or minimizing wrinkles.
The Worst: Stomach sleeping. It’s good for easing snoring, but it’s bad for everything else. Sleeping with your neck rotated all night long creates a severe dysfunctional structural pattern which may become permanent. The pose puts pressure on your joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, and tingling.
– L. Woods