You might not give much thought to the position you sleep in, but nodding off with your back and limbs in an awkward arrangement could be compromising your ability to enjoy peaceful rest throughout the night. Of course, the position you adopt when you’re trying to sink into relaxing slumber should feel natural. However, your favourite position might be causing you all manner of problems that you’re not even aware of. To help you get to grips with this important issue, here is a guide to six of the most common postures, along with some top tips to help you improve the way you sleep.
The most common posture is the foetus and this involves lying on your side with your legs and arms slightly bent. It’s thought that around six in ten Brits adopt this position to sleep. If this is one of your favourites, you might be pleased to note that experts consider it to be among the healthiest. This is because it allows air to pass through your passages freely and it also helps to prevent stomach reflux. The foetus is especially good if you manage to maintain a straight back throughout the night.
However, if you put too much weight on your arms, there’s a risk that you’ll experience pins and needles.
Another popular posture is the log. To do this, you lie on your side with your arms flat against your body. As long as your mattress and pillow are supportive, this can also be a good position because, like the foetus, it helps you to breathe freely. It also allows you to stretch your spine as you sleep.
If you rest on your back with your legs straight and your arms by your side, you’re adopting the soldier position. This might seem harmless enough, but in fact experts advise against it for the majority of people. It is the position most likely to lead to snoring because the tongue has a tendency to fall to the back of the throat. Even if this doesn’t wake you up during the night, it’s bound to disturb your partner!
Meanwhile, the freefall, or skydiving, position sees you lie on your front with your head turned to the side and your arms up on the pillow. This can cause problems too. Lying with your neck at right angles to your body can cause stiffness, especially if there is a draft in your bedroom. Also, keeping your hands up at face level may give you pins and needles. In addition, if your bed is too soft, you can strain your spine.
That said, the freefall posture can be good for your digestive system.
The starfish involves lying on your back with your legs and arms outstretched. Similar to the savasana position in yoga, it can be a relaxing way to sleep. However, you’ll need a big bed, and the starfish is associated with the same snoring problem as the soldier.
Last but not least , we have the yearner. You adopt this position if you sleep on one side with your arms reaching out in front of you. This is considered to be a good option. Like the foetus and log, it promotes unrestricted breathing. Also, by stretching your arms out in front of you, you reduce the risk of getting pins and needles.
Are you sleeping comfortably?
If you’re happy with the way you sleep, then simply carry on as you are. However, if you suspect that your posture is stopping you from getting a good night’s rest, now could be the time to take action. For example, if you tend to sleep on your back and this is causing you to snore, you might benefit from investing in a body pillow. These large supports can prevent you from rolling onto your back during the night. Another top tip is to sew a tennis ball into the back of your pyjamas. Although it might seem a little eccentric, this simple trick can work wonders when it comes to ensuring you sleep on your side.
Another simple way to change your night time position is to invest in an adjustable bed. These useful sleeping aids can help you to achieve a range of postures with ease. They give you the option of raising your upper and/or lower body and they can be a big help to anyone who has specific sleeping requirements.
Also, bear in mind that whichever posture you adopt, you’ll need a good quality mattress. Even if you have the best possible sleeping position, a shoddy mattress could result in all manner of aches and pains. In contrast, the best of these products will help to support your spine and limbs, meaning that when you wake up each morning, your body should feel rested and relaxed.
Why it’s worth making a change
It’s easy to dismiss sleeping positions as unimportant, but in fact they can have a big impact on your overall health and wellbeing. According to research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly two-thirds of adults in the UK have trouble nodding off at least a few nights a week, while one in three of us regularly sleep for five hours or less a night. Even more worryingly, nearly a fifth of people claim they never get a good night’s kip. Poor sleeping positions may play a role in stopping some of these individuals getting enough shuteye.
As well as making you feel grumpy and preventing you from concentrating, a lack of sleep can trigger a range of medical problems. Regular sleeplessness can put you at an increased risk of serious conditions including heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and it shortens your life expectancy.
So, if you believe you’re sleeping position is not quite up-to-scratch, now could be the time to make a change. You might be surprised by how much of a difference a simple switch of body posture can make to the quality and length of your slumber.