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Sleeping Posture

We have written articles about sleep and mental health, the effects of sleep deprivation, and the scientific point of view of sleeping. However, do you know what your sleeping position is? Do you sleep on your stomach, back or side? Sleeping positions can affect your sleeping quality or physical health. Interestingly, according to Chris Idzikowsi, PhD, director of Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service in London, there is a relationship between sleep position and personality. Knowing the importance of sleep, let’s dive into the common sleeping postures and their benefits or risks.


Side Sleepers


This position is widely used as it is super comfortable. Alternating the side can help as sleeping on the left or right have both their pros and cons. According to Amerisleep, sleeping on the left helps improve blood circulation, while sleeping on the right helps relieve pressure on the heart.

Fetal

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This position is favored by 41% of people and is more common for women. It means you are sleeping on the side with legs curled up and bent. If you use this position, you may have a tough exterior but shy and sensitive on the inside. Since your spine is in its natural alignment, it is a healthy position for back pain. Research suggests that this is a good position, especially on the left for pregnant women, because it improves circulation for both the mother and fetus and prevents the uterus from pressing the liver, according to WebMd. Putting a pillow under the hips or between the knees can relieve more pressure and keep the back and hip comfortable.


Log

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People who are in this position sleep on their sides with arms next to their bodies. There are approximately 15% of people who sleep like that, according to Alaska Sleep. It helps to keep your spine in its natural curve and significantly benefits those suffering from back pain. However, there is a difference in support between the lower and top leg, and it may not be ideal for people experiencing hip pain and arthritis. Log sleepers are social and easy-going people.


Yearner

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Around 13% sleep in this position describes those who sleep on their side with both arms out in front. These people are usually slow during decision-making, but they are determined once they have decided. They are also excellent and reliable friends. The pros and cons are similar to log position.


Back Sleepers


Doctors consider this to be the best position as it causes no stress or pressure on the neck and spine. The only common issue is that it relates to snoring.


Soldier


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This position means you sleep on your back with your arms at your side. It makes up to 8% of people. People who sleep in this position are strong, silent, and focused, accordion to Psycom. They have high expectations and take themselves and others very seriously. Sleeping on the back has been shown to benefit people with neck and back pain. It is similar to the Savasana pose in yoga which helps relieve stress. However, it is associated with snoring as it potentially restricts your airways.


Starfish



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It is one of the least popular positions with only 5% of people. They may have an unconventional style but are very loyal and prioritize making relationships as they are ready to help and listen to others. The person sleeps on their back with both arms pointed upwards. The merits and demerits are similar to the soldier position. However, the shoulder position may create extra pressure and may cause pain. It is also not recommended for sleep apnea.


Stomach Sleepers

Freefall/ Skydiver


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This position means the person is sleeping on the stomach. According to Ontario Health, around 7% of people lay on their stomachs with their arms wrapped around the pillow. Psycom communicates that these people may seem free-spirited and tend to be risk-takers, but they can be sensitive to criticism. It has been shown to reduce snoring and promote good digestion. However, many experts mention this position causes numerous health risks such as back pain, neck, and hip pain since the spine is not aligned and puts extra pressure on joints and muscles.



So, What’s the Best Position?


If you do not have specific health problems, any position is suitable for you as long as it is comfortable and you have a good night’s sleep. However, some positions do aggravate sleep apnea, snoring, neck or back pain.


Choosing the right mattress and pillow is crucial. Ideally, you want the mattress firm enough to support your spine while soft enough to shape your body. Amerisleep states that side sleepers must have a soft to medium feel to relieve pressure on hips and shoulders. As for back sleepers, the mattress should have a medium to firm feel. Lastly, stomach sleepers' mattresses should be firm to keep the stomach elevated.


Pillow is also essential as a bad one may cause neck pain and a headache, but it depends on your sleeping position. For side sleepers, hugging a second pillow may help. As for back sleepers, a flexible mid-loft pillow can help to hold the head gently. According to Amerisleep, stomach sleepers should look for a flat pillow.


If you have health problems or are pregnant, you may need to adjust your sleeping positions to cater to your health needs. Try experimenting with different positions to see which fits you. If the health issues are serious, it is highly recommended to seek professions. Ultimately, it comes down to how you feel.


There is not the “best position.” Every person has their unique sleeping position, and we twist and turn several times a night. It may be a combination of a few of these. sleep is vital to us as it highly affects our daily life, energy level, and mental health. Just ask yourself, am I comfortable? Did I have a good night’s sleep? If you wake up feeling sleepy or not energized, you may need to seek professional help. I hope you all have a sweet dream and sleep!



Article Author: Michelle Xiao

Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Edie Whittington