• Elias Limberopoulos

The Best and Worst Sleep Positions for Your Posture

Sleep is essential to our health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. While we sleep, the body works to rebuild and repair the muscles, joints and organs, detoxify and remove waste throughout the body, reduce pressure on organs like the heart, and process the events of our day to name a few.

Sleep needs vary from person to person but for most people the recommended amount is around 8 hours of sleep per night. If you are tossing and turning throughout the night, waking up through the night or waking up with neck or back pains, it might be because you are not setting yourself up for a good night’s rest. There are different factors that can contribute to a good night’s sleep, including the position you sleep in.

1. Sleeping on Your Back: Top Choice

Sleeping on your back is easier on your spine, head, and neck. This allows them to be in a neutral position with better alignment and less pressure. Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist, and a diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine recommends sleeping on your back. When asked what sleep position is best for our bodies to get a good night’s sleep, he stated,” Sleeping on your back is best, unless you snore.”

2. Sleeping on Your Side: Runner-Up

For anyone with sleep apnea, snoring issues, pregnancy, or joint pain sufferer, sleeping on your side is probably your best option. This position elongates the spine, which helps to counter back and neck pain, and it opens the oropharynx for better breathing. For the most comfort in this position, a pillow for your head will help to keep it aligned and a pillow between your legs will keep you supported.

How Do You Choose Which Side?

There is something to say about sleeping on your left and right side. Sleeping on the left side can put a strain on organs like your heart. Interestingly, this is said to be the most optimal for blood flow and ideal for those who are pregnant or have acid reflux. The right side is said to worsen acid reflux. It is important to pay attention and see what position is the most comfortable and pain-free for you.

3. Sleeping on Your Stomach: Bad Choice

Many people sleep on their stomachs. This position might exaggerate and put strain on parts of the spine like the lower back and neck rather than supporting them. Sleeping on the stomach could keep you from breathing normally and affect circulation. Most people including my clients report more pressure on the joints and muscles causing pain, numbness, or tingling. Joint pain sufferers should reconsider this sleeping position.

4. Sleeping in the Fetal Position: Also, a Bad Choice

Sleeping on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest might be comfortable, but this position can lead to neck, back and joint pain. As the body moves into this exaggerated flexed position, the joints become misaligned and less supported. The shoulders and neck should be aligned when sleeping to promote the best sleep and prevent muscle and joint pain.

Other notable suggestions for quality sleep according to sleep experts:

  • Avoid eating large meals 2-3 hours before bed.

  • Sleep in a dark, cool room on a comfortable mattress.

  • Do not sleep with the fan on.

  • Eliminate use of electronics 1 hr. before bed.

  • Use white noise to drown out external noises.

If muscle aches and pains continue to affect your sleep, consider A Rolfing® session or series. It is not uncommon to hear clients mention poor sleep quality due to various types of body aches. It is quite common to hear clients mention this complaint in the first session and never bring it up again in the future sessions as they go through the Ten Series. Rolfing helps to create new movement patterns and postures. You will get to the point where your old body positions which were once comfortable now feel odd and uncomfortable. A new, more comfortable body is waiting for you. Experience the Magic of Rolfing. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call. You can find me at one of several locations in the Chicagoland area. Be well.

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