4 Most Popular Sleeping Positions
Sleep. We love to talk about it. How much we are getting? How much we are not getting it? That great nap we had on Sunday afternoon. There has been ton of research on how sleep affects our health and wellbeing, but did you know that not only how much sleep you get, but the position you sleep in matters too?
It turns out what positions you sleep in can also have an impact on your health and give a glimpse into your personality. Did you know poor sleep posture can lead to back and neck pain, fatigue, sleep apnea, muscle cramping, headings and poor digestion and circulation troubles? Here is what we know about the four most popular sleeping positions:
Sleeping on your back
Interestingly enough, sleeping on your back is not the most popular sleep position, but it is actually the healthiest choice for most people. This is because there is no extra pressure on your head, neck or spine to cause you pain or cramping. This is also the preferred sleeping position if you have acid reflux. If you suffer from this condition, lay on your back and put a firm enough pillow under your head that elevates your head high enough so your stomach is below your esophagus. This will keep food and acid from coming up our digestive tract.
If you, however, suffer from sleep apnea, then sleeping on your back can actually be dangerous. This is because your tongue might block your breathing tube.
One version of this position is called the starfish where you lie on your back with both arms up. Personality studies suggest that people in this position are good listeners and always willing to lend a hand. They generally don’t like to be the center of attention though.
Sleeping on your side
Sleeping on your sides with your torso and legs mostly straight has a lot of benefits. It can also decrease acid reflux and because your spine is relatively straight, you won’t suffer from a lot of back and neck pain. Snoring is also at a minimum in this position because there is nothing blocking your airways. The only potential negative is that because half your face is pressed into a pillow, the chance for wrinkles increases.
One version of sleeping on your side is the log position. This is where both your arms are down while you are laying on your side. Personality studies have associated the log position with people who are social and friendly and a little too trusting.
Other people prefer to lie on their side with both of their arms out in front of their body. This is called the yearner position and people who prefer it are considered to be very open-minded, but at the same time stubborn and a little bit cynical.
Sleeping in a fetal position
Apparently we all long for the days when we were curled up all snugly in our mother’s womb because the most popular sleeping position is the fetal position (on your side with your upper body hunched and knees curled up) with 41 percent of adults preferring to sleep this way. Not surprisingly, this is a great position for pregnant women because it improves circulation for both mother and child and prevents the uterus from putting pressure on your liver. This position can also quiet snoring too. But you have to be careful with this position because if you hold it too tight, you might have trouble breathing and you might wake up with aches and pains. Making modifications to the fetal position can help. Try to keep as much of your body as straight as possible with just your knees pulled up high and place a pillow between your knees for extra support.
A study that investigated the personality traits of people who prefer this position has found that people who sleep like this are more likely to have a tough exterior but with a warm heart underneath. They tend to take a while to warm up to people.
Sleeping on your stomach
While some people may find that sleeping on their back helps with snoring, overall this position causes the most discomfort. After a night of sleeping on your stomach, you probably will feel neck and back pain as well as achy muscles and joints. The constant pressure can even cause nerve problems with numbness and a tingling feeling in your arms and legs. Sleep experts recommend that you do not sleep on your stomach, especially if you are having sleep problems.
One version of this position is called the Freefall where you lie on your stomach with your hands up and your head turned on one side on the pillow. Personality studies suggest that people who prefer this position are more extroverted, but have difficulty accepting criticism.
Getting a better night’s sleep
Besides your sleep position, there are other factors that might be causing you to have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. An unhealthy diet, stress, and even your mattress can be a culprit too. If your mattress is ten years old or older and/or you find yourself tossing and turning a lot in the night, then you should consider purchasing a new mattress. There are a lot of different brands to choose from so you should go to the store and take your time to try out different mattresses until you find the one that will fit your sleeping style the best.
Both your mattress and your pillow can affect the alignment of your body as you sleep. That is why it is so important to try out new mattresses and pillows for yourself so you can see what type of elevation the combination of pillow and mattress will give you. Don’t forget that pillows should be switched out every one and half to two years as well. Size of your mattress is also another factor you should consider. Do you have enough room to stretch and move around while you are sleeping?
Because sleep deprivation can affect our physical and mental health so adversely, it is important that you do not ignore your sleep problems. Make an appointment with your physician and get help on identifying the problem.