When you climb between the sheets each night, you might not think twice about your sleeping position. However, failing to pay attention to your posture in bed could be a big mistake. Experts suggest that slipping into slumber in the wrong position could be as damaging to health as wandering around with a permanent slouch.
But what exactly is the best way to arrange your body in bed? There are so many sleeping positions to choose between, from the popular foetus, to the freefaller, to the starfish. Luckily, help is at hand. This brief guide should help you settle on a suitable posture.
What's the midline, and why should you aim for it?
If you’ve not heard about the midline position, you could be missing a trick. This is a term used by physiotherapists and it refers to maintaining your spine’s natural curves in order to keep stresses to a minimum. The idea is that by holding your midline as you sleep, you can reduce the strain on your back.
There’s no absolute right and wrong when it comes to selecting a sleeping position. However, experts recommend that whichever pose you adopt, you should try to hold your body in the midline. Having a good quality mattress that offers plenty of support can help with this, but you’ll also need to do your bit to keep your torso and limbs in order.
One of the most common and comforting sleeping positions is the foetus. This involves resting on your side with your arms out and your legs slightly bent. If you prefer this way of lying down, you’re in luck as it’s effective at keeping the muscles, discs and ligaments in your back in an optimal position. It also helps you to breathe freely and can reduce the risk of acid reflux.
To achieve the midline, simply place a pillow between your knees. Also, if you have a soft mattress or an hourglass figure, it helps to put a pillow under your waist. Make sure your arms stay stretched out in front of you too so they don’t go dead.
Unfortunately, the news isn’t so good if you like lying on your back in the soldier position (legs in line and your arms by your side) or in the starfish (legs and arms outstretched). Resting on your back like this increases your risk of snoring. Even if this doesn’t bother you, it could be problem for your partner. These positions also increase your risk of heartburn.
On the plus side though, it is possible to hold your midline while on your back. To do this, place pillows under your knees to help relieve the pressure on your lower back. Better still, use an adjustable bed to achieve the same effect. Also, make sure you have enough pillows under your head to provide support without causing your head and neck to tilt backwards or forwards.
Experts advise against sleeping on your front in the freefaller, or skydiver, position with your arms up by your face. This posture can lead to stiffness in your neck and pins and needles in your hands. Also, if your bed is too soft, it can put asymmetrical pressure on your spine. If you struggle to sleep unless you’re on your front though, there are ways to make this position better. For example, you can reduce the strain on your neck by placing a pillow under one side of your torso.
By bearing simple suggestions like these in mind, you could improve the quality of your sleep and boost your back health.