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Preferred Sleep Positions: Helping Health Issues, Or Making Them Worse?

October 22, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — sleepdunwoodyteam @ 7:21 pm

Everyone has a preferred sleeping position — maybe yours is curled up like a baby, over on your belly, or straight on your back. But have you considered how your snoozing habit could impact the quality of your sleep? It’s especially important to think about how you lie if you have sleep apnea. Consider the pros and cons of each sleeping position.

Back Sleeping: Bad for Snoring, Good for Everything Else

Some pros and cons of back sleeping…

  • Can prevent acid reflux
  • Allows the head, neck, and spine to rest in a neutral position
  • Minimizes wrinkles
  • Increases snoring/sleep apnea risk

People who sleep on their back are at a greater risk of snoring. On your back, it’s easier for the mouth to fall open and the tongue to fall back, obstructing the airway. However, there are a number of benefits of sleeping on the back — especially for the head, neck, and spine, which remain in a neutral position without stress. People who deal with acid reflux can also benefit from back sleeping, as long as the head is elevated above the esophagus to prevent acid from coming up.

If you sleep on your back, choose a single puffy pillow to keep your head elevated above the esophagus.

Stomach, Face Down Sleeping: Prevents Snoring

Some pros and cons of stomach snoozing…

  • Prevents snoring and sleep apnea symptoms
  • Promotes wrinkles
  • Places pressure on breasts
  • Strains head, neck, back
  • Better for digestion

Sleeping on the stomach is recommended for people who snore or suffer from the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. People who do not suffer from sleep apnea may want to avoid this sleep position, however, as it is difficult to keep a neutral spine while sleeping on the stomach. Back and neck pain can occur as a result. The side effects can be especially significant over time — sometimes resulting in a herniated disk.

If you sleep on your stomach, use a single thin pillow, or skip one altogether to hold your joints in better alignment.

Sleeping On Your Side: Most Popular Position

Pros and cons of side sleeping…

  • Takes pressure off the head, neck, and spine
  • Reduces snoring
  • Alleviates acid reflux
  • Problems associated with fetal position sleeping
  • Promotes wrinkles
  • Places pressure on breasts

Do you prefer to sleep on your side? This is the most common sleeping position, and it can also help to ward off back and neck pain and alleviate acid reflux (just like back sleeping). Side sleeping also reduces snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. However, sleeping on your side in the fetal position, with the knees drawn up into the chest, does not promote proper alignment of the back, neck, and head.

Choose a thick pillow to support your head in a neutral position above the shoulder.

At the end of the day, while switching up your sleep position may alleviate certain health discomforts, it’s most important to sleep in the position that will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. If you do change positions and find yourself more uncomfortable in the new one than you were in the old one, feel free to switch back. The most important thing is your comfort. Depending on the position you sleep in, selecting pillows like the ones mentioned above will support proper alignment to help your body get the most out of your rest.

When a New Sleep Position Isn’t Enough

If you’ve changed your sleep position but haven’t had any success alleviating your snoring and sleep apnea symptoms, you may need professional help. Get a free consultation from Sleep Better Georgia to find out if you need sleep apnea treatment. Request an appointment today!

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