do you weight the bed Or can you only curl up when lying on your side?
We often discuss getting a great night’s sleep, from hanging up at a reasonable time to banning phones from the bedroom to aiming to close our eyes for eight hours – but we rarely talk about what our bodies do when he falls on the bed covers.
According to a YouGov survey, one in five people sleeps less than five hours a night, while 68 percent wake up exhausted.
This is worrying as lack of sleep has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity and depression.
But what if you could improve your health simply by sleeping in a certain position?
dr Lindsay Browning, sleep expert at Trouble Sleeping and author of Navigating Sleeplessness, says, “It’s important to choose the right position based on your needs.
“Sleeping positions have been linked to sleep apnea, a breathing disorder during the night that can affect heart health and lead to chronic sleep deprivation.
“Also, if we don’t choose the right position with a supportive mattress and the right pillows, we can wake up in pain and need to move to get comfortable again, leading to disrupted sleep.”
Here explains Dr. Browning tells reporter Clare O’Reilly how your sleeping position affects your health. . .
ON YOUR BACK
BEST FOR: People with lower back pain, people with nasal congestion and babies.
Worst for: Third trimester women, after 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Health Effects: Sleeping on your back can help with lower back pain because it allows the spine to maintain its natural alignment.
It can also relieve a stuffy nose, as raising your head on a pillow will drain mucus, reduce acid reflux, and relieve sinus pain by relieving pressure on the area.
Sleeping on your back can also make your face look younger. Smaller studies have found that tipping on your side can lead to wrinkles over time due to the pillow squeezing the eyes and face.
But sleeping on your back can make snoring worse, especially if you have sleep apnea (when breathing stops and starts again).
It is not recommended for women in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Studies have found that sleeping on your back after 28 weeks of pregnancy can double your risk of stillbirth.
ON YOUR LEFT
BEST FOR: Heartburn, acid reflux and pregnancy after 28 weeks.
Worst for: cardiac arrhythmias.
Health Effects: Reduces snoring and is better for digestion.
If you lie on your left side, you may experience cardiac arrhythmia.
Studies have found that lying on your left side can cause your heart to move and compress, which can lead to heart problems over time.
However, lying in this position is not only bad, it also reduces the risk of gastroesophageal reflux — better known as indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux.
Research has shown that people with gastroesophageal reflux who slept on their right side had more reflux flare-ups and symptoms lasted longer.
Therefore, make sure you fall asleep on your left side if you suffer from heartburn.
Sleeping on your side can improve snoring, which can significantly reduce sleep apnea.
Also, pregnant women in the last trimester are advised to sleep on their side.
ON YOUR RIGHT
BEST FOR: Heart health and possibly reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Worst for: Acid reflux and heartburn.
Health Effects: While sleeping on the left side can affect the heart’s natural rhythm, the same problems do not arise when sleeping on the right side.
It has been found that people with heart failure naturally avoid tipping to the left.
Sleeping on the right side may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Toxic byproducts accumulate in our bodies during the day, including beta-amyloid — a substance found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
The spinal fluid helps flush out these toxins during sleep.
Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the US who studied rodents found that the flushing effect was most effective when the subjects slept on their right side.
ON YOUR STOMACH
BEST FOR: People who tend to snore loudly.
Worst for: People with back or neck pain and not suitable for pregnant women.
Health Effects: Sleeping on your stomach is the least common sleeping position at night and generally has fewer health benefits than sleeping on your side or back.
But it can help people with sleep apnea by helping them keep their airways open throughout the night.
It has also been found to reduce the risk of snoring.
However, for many people, the risks of this sleeping position tend to outweigh the benefits.
Stomach sleeping can put stress on the spine and is therefore not recommended for people with back pain.
For obvious reasons, it should also be avoided for pregnant women.
If you’re a stomach sleeper and want to switch positions for your health, use a pillow to train your body to sleep on your side.
BEST FOR: Undisturbed sleep, menopause, people with insomnia.
Worst for: extra beds.
Health Effects: When you sleep alone, it’s easier to move around at night without disturbing your partner.
Having this opportunity during menopause can be very helpful.
If you suffer from hot flashes, you may exercise more often to regulate your temperature.
We all move when we sleep, but excessive movement could mean you have REM sleep behavior disorder (sleepwalking/talking) or obstructive sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder.
If you’re struggling with any of these conditions, sleeping like a starfish may be easier, but you should also get checked out by your GP.
A lot of exercise can also mean that your sleep is not as restful. So, review your sleep hygiene and see if you can improve it — for example, by getting a more comfortable mattress and pillow, adjusting the room temperature, and properly relaxing before bed.