Everyone has a favourite position to sleep in, whether it be on their back, side or tummy, and some people find they can only get comfortable in one particular pose. But according to experts, some positions could actually have a negative impact on your health. “Everyone has their own unique way of sleeping, but there are several key positions that are significantly better for your health than others,” said Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder of The Sleep School. Dr Guy and Swedish furniture maker IKEA advise on what different sleep positions mean for your health:
Sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your back is considered “the best sleeping position for your overall health”, said Dr Guy.
This is because it offers your body “optimal support”, whilst maintaining the natural alignment of you head, neck and spine throughout the entire night.
In fact, the only downside to sleeping on your back is that it can increase the chance of snoring, due to the tongue falling back into the throat.
Sleeping on your side (with straight legs)
Sleeping on your side with your legs out straight is also considered “a great sleeping position”, notes Dr Guy, as it helps to keep the spine elongated.
If you sleep on your side, make sure, however, that your head is adequately supported by a pillow.
Added benefits of sleeping in this position include reduced snoring and lessened acid reflux.
In pregnant women, sleeping on the left side is reported to increase the flow of blood between mother and baby.
Sleeping in your side (curled up in a ball)
Sleeping in the foetal position – curled up in a ball on your side – is reported to be the most popular of all sleeping positions, notes Dr Guy.
But whilst it comes with many of the same benefits as sleeping on your side with straight legs, sleeping in the foetal position takes your spine out of neutral alignment.
This can increase the chance of pain-related sleep disturbance, such as back pain.
Sleeping on your front
Sleeping on your front is generally considered to be the worst sleeping position, according to Dr Guy.
This is because sleeping on your tummy puts strain on the neck and back as you twist your head to the side.
“For many individuals lying down flat to sleep can actually result in a worsening of medical conditions such as snoring, sleep apnoea, acid reflux and poor circulation,” said Aleedawaty Abas, bedroom sales leader at IKEA UK & Ireland.
“In such cases, using extra pillows or an adjustable bed to raise the head above the chest can reduce sleep disturbance and promote a more restful night.”