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The Best and Worst Sleep Positions for Your Health

Have you ever wondered what the best sleep positions are and how they affect sleep? In fact, the position you sleep in greatly impacts your sleep and may cause snoring, sleep apnea, and even insomnia. Therefore, continue reading this article to find out what the best sleep positions are and how they are related to many health conditions.

Back (Supine Position)

The supine sleep position means that a person is sleeping on his or her back with legs extended out and arms flat by the sides, bent across the torso or raised above the shoulders. The main advantage of the supine sleep position is that it allows proper breathing. It is also the best position to relieve chronic back, neck, hip, or sciatica pain. Also, if a person uses a pillow to raise his or her feet above the heart, it may help in alleviating swelling of the feet and ankles, called peripheral edema.

However, those who already have breathing issues find this sleep position disadvantageous because it makes their breathing even worse and causes loud snoring or sleep apnea. The following is a list of conditions that may be worsened by supine-related sleep apnea:

  • Insomnia
  • Snoring
  • Sleepiness
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Glaucoma
  • Heartburn
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Palpitations

Left Side (Left Lateral Position)

When being positioned with the head and torso lying on the left side it means that you sleep in a lateral position. It is actually the best position for avoiding the negative impact of supine sleep and alleviating snoring and sleep apnea. In fact, the lateral position is best for optimal sleep. And, pregnant women are also recommended to sleep on their left side to relieve bladder pressure and back pain.

On the other hand, the left lateral position may increase pressure on the heart because the lungs weigh heavily on it. So, it may worsen heart strain in heart failure. Furthermore, since sleeping on the left side, there’s an added pressure on the nerves within the left arm and leg which may lead to shoulder, lower back, and left hip pain.

Right Side (Right Lateral Position)

Sleeping with the head and torso lying on the right side means that you sleep in the right lateral position. Similar to left lateral sleep, it also avoids the negative impacts of sleeping on the back. And, in case of left-sided joint, shoulder, or hip pain, the right side lateral sleep position may help in alleviating the pain.

Unfortunately, since the internal organs shift to the right as a result of gravity, the heart puts pressure on the right lung which leads to volume reduction of the lung which may seriously affect people with pulmonary conditions. And, as with sleeping on the left side, the right lateral position may lead to shoulder, lower back, and right hip pain.

Stomach (Prone Position)

Finally, here’s the least common sleep position called the prone position characterized by sleeping on the stomach with the face turned to one side. The main advantage of the prone position is the same as with the lateral position, i.e. it avoids the negative consequences of supine sleep. But, it also prevents the organs from shifting to sides and may help relieve chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Still, there are also some disadvantages of the prone sleep position. Namely, it may lead to neck pain and strained shoulder or upper back muscles. Also, pressure on the arms or hands nerves can lead to issues. And, breathing may be affected as the body’s weight is reducing lung volume.

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