The best sleeping position is a key factor in falling asleep faster. Do your bed struggle is for achieving best sleeping position? Read information regarding different sleeping postures.
Medical Significance of Best Sleep Position
A letter to the patient suffering from insomnia
We have discussed the importance of the sleeping position. Indeed the sleeping position should bring us sleep and health. Naturally, one maybe asking which position is the best sleeping position then. We will try to figure it out in below discussion.
In how many styles human can sleep? How many postures one may take before and during sleep??
There are plenty!!!
Let’s imagine you are lying on the mattress. You may face towards the sky or towards the ground. Maybe you choose right or left sides. In conclusion, you can face in all directions. In other words, we can sleep facing at any of the directions.
Now come to the basic question we are discussing. Which position is the best sleeping position?
People take a number of sleeping positions before or during sleep. One may like to lie facing the sky. Other maybe favors lying on his left or right side.
It’s due to individualism. Just like the difference between why I like tea and you like coffee. Logically we will try to figure it out.
Mechanism of body postures and best sleeping position
Each living being has his inherent safety design. The Mother Nature has gifted different ways of protection for the continuation of life. Since our topic relates to sleep, we will discuss only one that relates.
How long can we sustain standing position? How long we can sit in one particular position??
Obviously, there is a limit. However, the duration varies for each individual.
What makes us change that position after a certain time?
Our nervous system plays the key role here. It signals us to change position. It forces us to change and accommodate another comfortable position.
Probably a kind of pressure gradient sets in. If we retain our body in a certain position the pressure starts mounting.
In the first place, the pressurized skin lacks blood supply. Obviously, the nerves in a pressurizing area keep on squeezing. Sooner or later the pressurized muscles start soring. Even though we plan to sustain more, the subconscious mind notes the discomfort. This discomfort keeps on rising with time. This discomfort is nothing but a warning signal. It warns our brain and mind to change the position.
What if we deny this change?
Neither our brain nor mind will sustain this denial mode. After a considerable time, we had to change our position.
However, pressure sores are best examples if someone keeps one position for a longer duration.
We can see the clear picture in bed ridden patients. They remain in one position for a longer duration. In addition, they are handicapped enough to change their position on their own.
Their pressurized body parts will not bear the mounting weight. Probably there will be necrosis due to lack of oxygen supply. The skin gets injured enough to cause the wound. And the wound will keep on deepening. It destroys the muscles beneath. That is what we call it pressure sores.
In conclusion, as a living being, we have to keep on a move.
Common Sleeping Position
Human beings can sleep facing at any of all directions. Anatomical design of human body helps to curl in easily. Hence comparatively humans have more options for settling in best sleeping position.
Just think of cockroach!!! How it struggles if lie on the back!!!!
Believe or not, above analogy fits for those who struggle for sleeping position.
There are 4 common sleeping positions.
- Lying on back
- Lying on left side
- Lying on right side
- Lying on stomach
Depending on comfort level and medical significance anyone can be the best sleeping position.
Variations of sleeping positions
The choice of sleeping position is individualistic. Even in a single family, it is hard to find ‘sleep alike’. People favor the position that they find comfortable. However, suitability of sleeping position must be kept in mind from the medical perspective.
As a human, we can do a number of variations in above common sleeping positions.
Let’s take an example of the first position. One may lie on back with forearm keeping on his head. Or he may keep his palm on the stomach. Maybe he chooses to extend it. Or he may keep it under his head.
Oh… how many variations possible with single forearm??
Let’s take another example. For ‘X person’ sleeping on a back is his best sleeping position. Now in his best sleeping position, he may tilt his neck to right or left. Or simply he faces at the rooftop. Similarly, he may flex his right or left leg. Or maybe settle in by extending his one hand.
Oh…how many variations he can have even in his best sleeping position??
Just think about it!!!
In conclusion, we have plenty of options available. And fortunately, they are for all positions!!!
Sleeping Position: Lying on back
This position is most common of all. Probably it is the easier position. One may adapt it fast. Not to mention here it works as the best sleeping position for many.
Anatomically our back side is designed to support and bear weight. Hence by lying on back, one may be providing maximum comfort to the organs. In Yoga, the Shavasana is performed in this position.
Benefits of sleeping on back
The sleep is often restful in this position. Unlike other positions, hardly someone gets up with tingling or pain after sleeping in this position.
Sleeping on a back provides wide air exposure. Hence this position is helpful for the breathless person. Apart from that, this position provides full scope for chest inflation. Naturally, this position would be the best sleeping position for many asthmatic individuals.
Benefits of this position can be doubled by using a lighter pillow under your head. A slight lift of head portion ensures our spine rests well while sleeping. Hence this position maybe the best sleeping position in case of neck or back troubles.
By lifting head with the help of pillow prevents the back-flow of stomach acid. As a matter of fact, this position is widely recommended in case of acid reflux. Together with using pillow one can raise the height of the bed to achieve the same purpose.
Comparatively, penile erections during sleep are well safeguarded in this position. People with knee disorders also benefit a lot from this position.
This position has some cosmetic value also. It helps to maintain skin elasticity of face and chest areas. This helps to minimize wrinkles and reduce sagginess of breasts.
As a result sleeping on the back is widely recommended as best sleeping position!!!
Drawbacks of sleeping on back
Even though commonly recognized as best sleeping position, it has few drawbacks. Due to medical reasons, one may require abandoning this position.
Snoring could be one of the reasons!!
The habit of snoring is commonly observed in the people sleeping on a back. The throat tissue loses its tone and causes obstruction in airflow. The tongue may fall back. The vibrating air creates snoring sound. Snoring individuals often have intermittent sleep apnea. Sometimes sleep apnea can be critical enough requiring medical intervention.
This position is not recommended in later trimesters of pregnancy. The weight of fetus pressurizes the veins that return blood from pelvic area to heart.
Eyes are more prone to light in this position. If someone blows bulb while you are sleeping on back, your sleep likely to be disturbed.
How to minimize drawbacks of sleeping on the back?
It is wise to opt for other positions in case of snoring or sleep apnea. Consult your physician if the problem is more troublesome.
Use of lighter pillow of appropriate height not only minimizes drawback but also increases benefits.
Arrange for dim light bulbs in your bedroom. So that your sleep will not be disturbed if someone blows the light.
Sleeping Position: Lying on left side
This position is widely prescribed as best sleeping position. Major organs like heart, spleen lies at left side. Even the stomach has a greater curvature to its left side. Let’s see what benefits this position can offer.
Benefits of sleeping on left side
As someone inclines to his left while sleeping, ingested food finds the maximum area of a stomach wall. As a result, the rate and proportion of digestion increase. In addition, chances of acid backflow are comparatively low. Hence with the use of pillow this position can be recommended in acid reflux disorder. Moreover, this position enhances the flow of bile.
This position also enhances spleen functions. It ensures proper lymphatic flow. Additionally, it helps the circulation of blood towards the heart.
During second and third trimesters of pregnancy, this position usually recommended as best sleeping position.
Furthermore, back trouble can be minimized by putting a small pillow between both knees. This position brings maximum benefits of recovery position.
In conclusion, lying on the left side has extra medical significance for becoming your best sleeping position!!!
Drawbacks of sleeping on left side
This position is somewhat similar to recovery position. Comparatively, drawbacks are null. However, some cosmetician’s warrants facial wrinkles and breast sagging.
How to minimize drawbacks of sleeping on the left?
Use the proper size of a hard pillow. Ensure proper height of pillow to reduce the chances of acid back-flow.
Placing a pillow between knees helps for back troubles.
Sleeping Position: Lying on right side
Comparatively, this position is less prescribed as best sleeping position. It can be a temporary alternative for sleeping on left side position. However, it doesn’t bring all benefits of sleeping on left side.
Benefits of sleeping on right side
This position is the matter of individual’s choice. If someone finds comfort in this position he may prefer it. It is said that this position favors circulation. Because our heart is located at our left side. The heart would be finding greater space for beating.
The people with neck or back troubles may find comfort in this position. Also, this position can be alternative for left side if one cannot hold left position till sleep arrives. Similarly, breathless individuals may choose this position if they find comfort in it.
Drawbacks of sleeping on right side
This position is worst for the people suffering from heart burn or acid reflux. It impacts digestion because the stomach has a lesser digestive area on the right side.
Similarly sleeping on right side reduces blood circulation that fetus was getting. It also impacts proportion of blood that placenta was receiving. Sleeping on right side increases the chances of still birth especially during the third trimester. Due to these reasons, this position is not best sleeping position during pregnancy.
How to minimize drawbacks of sleeping on the right?
Understand your individual sleep initiation pattern. If you succeed to sleep in other position you will not opt this position as an alternative.
Consult your physician if positioning yourself on the left side or on the back is troublesome.
Ensure proper size of a pillow in case you had to sleep in this position.
Sleeping Position: Lying on stomach
It is also called as the prone position. This position is regarded as ‘worst for sleeping’ by many. The body weight falls on the tummy. Intra-abdominal organs are likely to be distressed.
If someone sleeps in this position then it is wise to extend one or more extremities. The extension will help to distribute the pressure.
Comparatively, younger ones prefer this sleeping position. Probably they have lesser discomfort because of lower body weight. In addition, they want to suck the warmth of bed.
Do you agree?
The bed is warmer in this position compared to other ones!!!
Benefits of sleeping on stomach
As we discussed earlier this position is medically not preferable. However, the people who snore get relief in this position. Probably for critical snoring problems this one is the best sleeping position.
Snoring is caused by temporary mechanical obstruction created while sleeping. Narrowing of airway happens due to muscle tissues of palate or back of the mouth. Some individuals have floppy tissue in airway areas. Hence an incoming flow of air creates noise. These people usually have disturbing sleeping patterns.
In addition, snoring individuals disturb neighboring persons!!
Have such one singer in the family and be a free audience for all nights!!!
OMG!!! All will suffer from insomnia!!!!
Sleeping on stomach minimizes the obstruction. Air canal remains open to breathe in. Probably throat tissues get help to maintain the muscle tone.
However, it is wise to consult the physician if snoring is severe!!!
In addition, this position provides pain relief for the patients who have swelling/boil on their back. Chances of getting disturbed due to pain are high in other positions. Hence sleeping on stomach would be the temporary best sleeping position for such individuals.
Drawbacks of sleeping on stomach
In this position or chest and stomach get support but not the face. And that due to our nose being anterior and had to be functioning. Naturally, he who sleeps on stomach has to bend his neck. Positioning our neck in this situation is really difficult. Maybe major neck muscles remain in constant strain. Moreover, discs of the cervical vertebra may be impacted due to regular strains.
One may end up inviting neck troubles!!!
Furthermore breathing is difficult while lying on stomach. One has to expand his chest against his own weight. Hence this position is definitely not the best sleeping position for asthmatic or COPD patients.
Coupled with the neck this position is disastrous for the back also. The human spine is concave in neck and back area. Sleeping on stomach puts extra pressure on the back spine. Rather regular sleeping on the stomach is an invitation for back troubles. Hence it hardly regarded as the best sleeping position in back troubles.
Not to mention here, this position is not the best sleeping position for pregnant woman.
Another caution is for males. Especially for those who had nocturnal erections. They may wake up with penile discomfort.
How to minimize drawbacks of sleeping on stomach?
Medical wisdom lies in not to lie on stomach often. People who are prone to neck or back disorder should opt for developing a new best sleeping position. For example, tall individuals or those who strain neck or back during daily job should avoid this position.
Till you develop new best sleeping position few things help to minimize the drawbacks. Putting pillow would distribute some pressure and reduce the strain on neck muscles. Size and hardness of pillow are the concern of individual choice and comfort.
What if you don’t find perfect pillow?
Don’t worry. Be natural!!! Just flex your hand and your palm or arm or forearm may provide you the necessary cushion.
In order to safeguard back put a pillow under pelvic area. If someone feels discomfort he may try neatly folded blanket for the purpose.
In addition, by adjusting pillow, males can safeguard the erected penis.
In conclusion, use of accessories like a pillow would help to reduce the drawbacks of this position.
Dear friend, hope above description would help you understand the concept of best sleeping position.
Dr. Suraj Suresh Awadhani