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Best sleeping positions: do they really exist?

Getting a good night’s sleep is the best way to prepare for a great day, one where you wake up feeling fresh, invigorated and energised for the day ahead. On the other hand, there is nothing worse for productivity than waking up after a poor slumber, feeling tired, grouchy, sore or just generally unsatisfied. But you should never just ‘accept’ bad sleep, it’s something your body needs every day to function properly. There are many ways you can improve the quality of your rest, from perfecting a night-time routine to monitoring your circadian rhythm, but have you considered how you’re sleeping? On average, you’re asleep for eight hours a night, so the position you adopt will have a considerable effect on the duration and quality of your sleep. For example, drifting off on the couch may be blissful at the time, but you may wake up feeling achy rather than refreshed! We look at the pros and cons of the top 3 most popular sleeping positions:

Position 1: On your back
Woman sleeping on her back
Lying on your back tends to be recommended as the best sleeping position as it supports optimal spinal alignment – something that bad sleeping habits tend to cause or worsen. Mattresses are specifically designed to accommodate back-sleepers, so by adopting this position, you are allowing the mattress to perform its intended purpose - supporting and comforting your spine, whilst alleviating any pressure points. Furthermore, this is the most neutral position as there are no awkward twists to the body, further helping to keep your back supported. Additionally, back sleeping can help to keep your neck properly aligned and comforted too, minimising the risk of strain in this region.

The health benefits don’t end there; from a dermatological perspective, there are plenty of good reasons to snooze on your back too. This is because you’re not pressing your face against a pillow for hours on end which can cause premature wrinkles and skin complaints.

However, lying on your back isn’t the perfect position, it has a higher incidence of people suffering from snoring or Sleep Apnea – a disorder which causes shallow or periods of paused breathing when you’re asleep.  Sleep Apnea can negatively affect sleep quality too, as the breathing irregularities result in an inability to reach a deep sleep. In fact, people with the latter condition are often advised against this position as when you’re on your back, gravity can result in your tongue lowering and obstructing your airways. One way to help alleviate these issues when sleeping on your back is to avoid using bulky pillows which place your neck at an awkward angle.

Position 2: On your side
Man sleeping on his side
Side sleeping is the most popular position in the UK and includes people who rest in the fetal position (curled up, head bowed). The fetal position has been said to be kind on your spine, which is why we adopt it in the womb and as infants. Interestingly with this type of position, the side in which you lay has a different impact on your health. Lying on your left-hand side is advised for pregnant women as it improves circulation to the heart, which benefits both mother and baby and it reduces the pressure on your lower back. For the general population, resting on this side also helps to improve heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. Meanwhile, lying on your right-hand side can minimise the stress placed on your organs as a side sleeper – so it can be helpful to alternate between the two.

A downside of this position is where to put your arms! Often people will wake up with arm stiffness or numbness, especially if they lay directly on the arm in question.  Pressure points such as those found in the hips can also be affected by lying on your side, so it is beneficial to reduce this by putting a pillow between your legs. Lastly, the fetal position has been noted to sometimes restrict breathing in the diaphragm.

Position 3: On your front
Man sleeping on his front
If you share a bed with a person that keeps you awake with their snoring, it may be helpful to ‘advise’ them to switch to sleeping on their front – it is the position with the lowest rate of snoring! Despite this, lying on your front doesn’t have the best reputation and is not recommended unless you’re unable to drift off any other way. The primary reason for this is that it doesn’t support spinal alignment and could cause lower back soreness that you take into your daily life. When lying on your front it is difficult to maintain a straight spine for an extended period of time as it causes twists and pressure points. This can be often found in the neck region, where front sleepers rest with their head turned for 8 hours at a time, commonly resulting in neck strain. It is then recommended to position yourself ‘face on’ without tilting your head but also being wary not to block your airways. As mentioned in the benefits to back sleeping, having your face against a pillow for extended lengths of time can also cause premature wrinkling and dermatological issues.

Our understanding of sleep is growing all the time, and recent studies have suggested that lying on your front may help aid digestion, particularly after a large meal. Perhaps this position may grow in popularity in the years to come.

In conclusion, there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to sleeping positions – it’s what works best for you. While the back position is medically recommended, lying on your side or front may help you in different situations – if you snore or are heavily pregnant. There are lots of combinatorial factors to getting a great night’s sleep, including using a mattress that promotes comfort and wellbeing.

The HUGGE mattress has been purposely designed to mould to your body’s curves to provide excellent posture support and comfort, helping you to feel recharged each morning. Why not upgrade your mattress by taking our 100 night sleep well trial to see what a difference having great night’s sleep can have!

 

 

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