While everyone’s need for sleep is more or less the same across the board, the position in which everyone gets his or her shut eye isn’t always quite as consistent. And while you may think that the pose you sleep in most commonly is just a matter of preference, the truth is that it might have an impact on your health and body beyond sleep in the long run.
Sleeping in the Fetal Position
PROS: Of all the sleep positions, getting some shut eye while lying curled up on your side might be your best bet. For starters, the position recreates the natural curve of the spine that our bodies have when we’re in the womb, which provides a relief from the more straightened out positions that we spend most of our days in. It improves circulation and is especially beneficial if you’re pregnant, since it helps nutrients reach the baby.
CONS: If you curl your body up too tightly, it’s possible to put a lot of pressure on your diaphragm and constrict your breathing, and it can actually end up hurting your spine and blood flow as opposing to supporting them.
Sleeping on Your Side
PROS: If you sleep on your side, but with your torso and legs extended as opposed to curled up in a fetal position, then you’ll benefit from keeping your spine elongated without distorting its natural curve. This helps ward off issues like back pain when you’re awake. Plus, the position is super helpful for anybody who suffers from sleep apnea.
CONS: If you don’t keep your legs stacked, it’s possible for you to inadvertently rotate your spine, which can lead to pain in your hips. You can also suffer from some neck pain if you don’t support your head properly, so it’s important to have a thick pillow or two to prop your head up.
Sleeping on Your Back
PROS: Sleeping on your back has the potential to be a pretty ideal sleep pose, if done correctly. Since it balances your body weight and it doesn’t call for a lot of readjusting throughout the night, it makes for an especially restful sleep. Plus, this position is great for preventing wrinkles since you have anything rubbing up against your face in your sleep.
CONS: What a lot of people overlook if they sleep on their backs is that having your body lie completely flat all night can end up putting a bit of undue stress on the spine. So the trick to making this position work is slipping a pillow under the knees to prop them up a bit and get rid of any spinal pressure and pain. Back sleeping is also bad news for anybody who suffers from sleep apnea and chronic snoring, since it destabilizes your upper airway.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
CONS: In just about every other regard aside from snoring and sleep apnea, sleeping on your stomach is pretty much just bad news. For starters, this position throws off the natural curve of your spine by flattening it out. It also puts some serious strain on your neck since sleeping on your stomach means that you’re going to have your head turned to the side all night, which in turn messes with your spine’s natural alignment in the neck.