Are you positioned for perfect sleep? Sleep position has been linked to a host of health problems, which include snoring, acid reflux, lower back pain and even wrinkles.

Is Your Sleep Position Impacting Your Quality of Sleep?

We know that good sleep is important for a healthy lifestyle and that a night spent tossing and turning can lead to a terrible day. However, we often overlook a crucial factor when considering sleep quality, one that comes so naturally to us we can’t always control it: sleep position.

Sleep position has actually been linked to a host of health problems, which include snoring, acid reflux, lower back pain and even wrinkles. Understandably, people naturally gravitate toward positions that make them feel best when sleeping and allow for easier breathing. According to WebMD, side sleeping is the most popular position for Americans.

Although it may be difficult to record your sleep posture each night, paying attention to your body’s resting position before you fall asleep and when you wake will help pinpoint specific health implications associated with your nighttime posture. Find your preferred position listed below to read more about how specific sleep postures can affect your health:

Sleeping on Your Back

According to Medical Daily, sleeping on the back makes it easier for your head, neck and spine to align in a neutral position. In fact, sleeping on your back with your arms at your sides is considered the best position for spine and neck health as long as you don’t use too many pillows.

The “starfish” position – sleeping on your back with your arms up and out – is also good for your back and has been linked to prevention of facial wrinkles and skin breakouts. Daily Health Post, however, points out that back sleepers often suffer from sleep apnea and report snoring more than those who sleep in any other position.                                            

Sleeping Face Down

Sleeping on your stomach is widely considered the worst sleep position by physicians, according to the Cleveland Clinic, as it does not support the natural curve of your spine. Though stomach-sleeping can be beneficial for those who snore, it may also lead to chronic aches as your head is kept to one side for long periods of time.

Sleeping on Your Side

With both arms down and your spine in its natural curve, sleeping on your side can reduce back and neck pain while also alleviating sleep apnea, according to Medical Daily’s breakdown of healthy sleep positions. When sleeping with your arms out in this position, however, sleeping on your side can restrict blood flow and put pressure on nerves which can cause arm or shoulder pain.

Although side-sleeping is common, the side you sleep on makes a difference. Research indicates that sleeping on the right side of your body can worsen heartburn, while sleeping on the left side can put strain on internal organs such as your liver, lungs and stomach.

Fetal Position

Sleeping in the fetal position, with your knees drawn up and chin tilted downward, may be comfortable while you sleep, but often results in chronic back and neck pain. The extreme curl of this position is known to restrict breathing and should be avoided – ideally you want your shoulders and neck to be aligned when sleeping, rather than curled up.

Keep in mind that your mattress plays a key role in sleep posture and how well you sleep each night. For example, if you prefer sleeping on your stomach, having an old, worn-out bed that sags in the middle may restrict your sleep posture and hurt your back. Research shows that people sleep better in positions that allow their bodies to rest without constricting limbs or causing them to twist into unnatural positions. With nearly one third of our lives spent asleep, it should come as no surprise that getting a good night’s rest is essential for our health, mind and mood.

What’s your favorite sleep position? Share with me in the comments below!

About The Author

Ken Murphy With more than 15 years of experience with Mattress Firm, Ken Murphy has worn many hats, all of which (were Mattress Firm red, of course) prepared him to step into the role of president and CEO, and perhaps most importantly, his role as a contributor to The Daily Doze. Here on the blog, he shares his thoughts on the importance of a good sleep environment, the impact of a good night’s sleep on your career, and the importance of sleep for his family. At Mattress Firm, Ken keeps his finger on the pulse of the company as he oversees sales, field operations, marketing communications, digital strategy, learning and development, and talent management. His passion and gusto are widely known and recognized around the Mattress Firm offices. In 2011, Ken was awarded Mattress Firm’s distinguished Spirit of Life award for his commitment to living out Mattress Firm’s mission and values in his day-to-day life. Ken holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Management from Stephen F. Austin State University. He lives in Houston with his wife, Susan, and is a proud father of five children. Best Night’s Sleep: As an aficionado of alliteration, Ken’s sleep time routine includes thinking up mattress-related tongue twisters like “Matt’s magnificent mattress makes mornings marvelous,” until he drifts off to a peaceful night’s sleep.

10 thoughts on “Is Your Sleep Position Impacting Your Quality of Sleep?

  1. Eileen Pelletier says:

    Sleeping on your side without a knee pillow to align your hips, can lead to posture related back pain, which can disturb your sleep.

  2. I primarily sleep on my right side with a soft pillow between my knees and a pillow under my head designed for side sleepers. i sleep alone, have sleep apnea, over 250 lbs (but less than 290 lbs) and use a cpap machine. i currently have a 3 year old beautyrest classic that is not comfortable. I’m looking to purchase a new mattress but really need comfort, and it needs to last

  3. William Decker says:

    I sleep on my left side with my left leg straight and my right leg bent at the knee. Whenever I attempt to sleep on my right side in the same position, right leg straight and left bent at the knee, after about 3 to 5 minutes it becomes difficult for me to breath through my nose, if I turn back to the let side my nose opens back up, any opinions?

  4. I usually fall asleep on right side posture pedic pillow and then firm full posture pedic pillow for between the legs. Then, switch to my back where I stay most of the night where my leg pillow ends up resting under both of my knees or in some sort of tangle. I was a belly sleeper before I had major brain surgery but that changes things. Also, changed to a posture pedic bed because I couldn’t sleep at all on my old pillow top. Such an interesting read.

  5. Valorie Grant says:

    I sleep on my back on a medical bed with a cushion under my feet and my hands at my side. The bed is comfortable, has a cushion under my knees, it’s rather narrow, but eliminates the numbness in my arms when sleeping on my side

  6. I sleep like a baby, flat on my back arms out on a free form waterbed! Why they got rid of these wonderful beds I’ll never know.

  7. Pete Guerrero says:

    This and every tip about sleep is what makes Mattress Firm the best place to find out great ways to improve your sleep as well as health. With a great bed comes the feeling of satisfaction from a great nights sleep. Thanks and let’s help America sleep better each and every day.

  8. I always thought it was odd that i have for years consistently fell asleep either on my left side or back (but with my arms in the same position.)with my right arm extended above my head and hand curving under my pillow and left arm drawn across my front with my hand on my right ribcage and both legs slightly bent. In either case my spouse says I look like I’m doing some ballet or Ice skating move. But, I fall asleep quickly and rarely wake or shift during the night.

  9. I have back problems with neuropathy in one of my legs caused by it. I sleep on my right side with my left knee bent slightly and on a large pillow to help keep my spine aligned. It is painful to try and sleep on my left side, and my legs temporarily paralyze when I sleep on my back for any length of time. I never have been able to sleep on my stomach. I recently went from a pillow top bed to a posturepedic which was the best decision I ever made in beds.

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