Do you prefer to curl up into a fetal position to sleep or to sprawl like a starfish, taking up as much mattress real estate as possible? Although there are almost an infinite amount of variations, when it comes down to it all sleepers assume one of these three primary sleep positions: back sleeper, side sleeper, or stomach sleeper.
What you may not know is this—not all sleep positions are equal. When it comes to alleviating back pain, neck pain, or simply getting a better night's sleep, some sleep positions are actually better than others.
What’s Your Sleep Position?
If you’re a back sleeper, you’re doing well. This position encourages deep breathing and allows your spine to maintain its three natural curves at the lower and middle back and near the neck, that is, if you’ve got the right pillow in play.
Popular among women, the fetal position is a relatively healthy sleeping position. Use pillows and stretches to avoid pressing on nerves or twisting your spine.
It may feel comfortable at first, but after 8 hours, sleeping on your stomach could lead to aches and pains. Stomach sleeping can compress your lungs and put a strain on your neck and back.
Sleep Train Your Way to a Different Position
It’s not easy to break a habit, but adopting a different sleep position can bring some benefits. Transitioning from stomach sleeping to back sleeping, for example, could help banish back pain and neck pain and even help prevent wrinkles and puffiness around your eyes.
If you’ve got aches and pains, chronic headaches, or just don’t feel refreshed or energized when you wake up, changing your sleeping position could be the answer.
Follow these 5 steps to a better sleep position:
Lie on Your Back
Lying on your back for a minimum of 10 minutes will align your spine and ease tension. Allow your head and shoulders to touch the mattress, and use a pillow that you can customize for the best alignment.
Get Into Position
Ready to become a back sleeper? Start in that position as soon as you get into bed. If you’re tired enough, you’ll drift off straight away. Avoid fidgeting and breathe deeply until you fall asleep. You’ll soon make it a habit.
Reset When Needed
It’s normal to change positions while you snooze. If you wake up and find yourself on your side or stomach, roll onto your back. If moving too much becomes an issue, block your sides with pillows or blankets.
Pillows aren’t just for your head. You can use pillows to make any position healthier. Placing a pillow under your knees may reduce the strain on your lower back if you’re back sleeping, and putting a pillow between your knees can help align hips if you’re side-sleeping. Hugging a full-length body pillow can help stomach sleepers stay on their side.
Stretch it Out
Get up and stretch first thing in the morning. Wake up 10 minutes earlier than normal to add it to your routine. You’ll feel more refreshed than ever before.
Getting good sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing. If you’ve gotten accustomed to a sleeping position that’s not beneficial for you, you can train your way out of it and start experiencing all the benefits of a restful–and properly aligned—night’s sleep.