How to adopt the best posture for sleep.

9 November, 2011

sleep posture

sleep posture

“A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by one after one; the sound of rain, and bees murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas, smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky – I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie sleepless…” William Wordsworth

Do you sleep on your back, your side or your stomach? 95% of adults have a regular position in which they like to sleep and very rarely change it. They may move around during the night, but usually go to sleep and wake up in the same position.

Very little of the research on sleep places enough emphasis on the correct posture to help you sleep. Proper posture while you sleep is essential.

Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service has done extensive research on the subject, including finding a link between sleep position and personality.

The most common sleep position in his survey is the foetal position, with the back curved forward and the knees are brought up to the chest.

Idzikowski also examined the effect of various sleeping positions on health. He concluded that:

The freefaller position, where you lie flat on your stomach with arms at the head or ears, was found to be good for digestion.

Meanwhile, the starfish position, where you lie on your back with arms and legs outstretched and soldier position, flat on your back with arms at your sides, were more likely to lead to snoring, the symptoms of sleep apnea and a bad night’s sleep. Lying on your back can also cause painful reflux as stomach contents make their way back up the oesophagus during the night.

Some researchers consider the side sleeping position to be best for falling asleep quickly and remaining in comfortable sleep. This position also avoids the dangers of snoring and other breathing difficulties experienced by those who sleep on their back or their front.

Most of us turn over during our sleep. So it is a good idea to adopt a sleeping position that allows one to roll over easily.

Start by lying on one side in the recovery position. If you sleep on the right side, place the left leg in a bent posture in front of the right leg.

The left arm is bent at the elbow with the upper arm at right angles to your body. The arm is then placed across the body and the hand fits neatly on the right shoulder.

Most people will want to put their right arm under the pillow, but this might make it more difficult for you to roll over. You are likely to get your arm tangled in the pillow and end up sleeping on your stomach.

If you put your right arm straight down your body, you can easily turn over. The body turns facing the ceiling without anything restricting the turn. 

As a result, your sleep is not interrupted and you wake up refreshed.

Try it – it works. It takes a little while to get the arm from under the pillow, but once you have succeeded, you will never put your arm under the pillow again.

Some sleep gurus suggest that if you sleep on your stomach or on your left side, you are putting pressure on your heart with the extra body weight. So it may be best to sleep on your right side, reducing the stress on your heart.

Many doctors recommend that you don’t sleep on your stomach as it compresses your internal organs. This position also creates an arch in the back that can cause pain and be hard on the lower back. The exception to this rule is if there is some medical reason for doing so.

Pregnant women are more likely to sleep on their sides than on their backs. Sleeping on the left side of the body can help get blood, nutrients and oxygen to the placenta and a growing baby.

Sleeping on the back is not recommended for pregnant women as it can lead to backaches, haemorrhoids, low blood pressure and a decrease in blood supply to the placenta.

But don’t get stressed out over your sleep position. It is not worth losing any sleep over! Just see if you can find a comfortable position, and if the side position works for you, then so much the better.

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