“Do you toss and turn at night?” begins every ad imaginable for sleep aids, fancy mattresses and fluffier pillows. These tools offer help to get to sleep, but paying attention to your sleep routines, patterns and especially sleep position are more effective ways to improve your sleep quality and health.
People like to say you spend a third of your life sleeping or trying to sleep. Research indicates the average 31-year-old spent 12 years asleep, or 627 weeks or 105,362 hours. In that time, you switch countless positions, no matter your preferred one, but did you know your sleep position could be messing up your health? Here’s what you should know.
What Your Sleep Position Says About Your Health
You should actively improve your sleep routine to gain better quality sleep. Mental fog, grumpiness and lack of focus all adversely affect your work, relationships and health. By improving your #sleep routine, you’ll improve every area of your life.Click To Tweet
Do you prefer sleeping on your side in a fetal position or sleeping on your stomach? Your sleep position affects your health in a myriad of ways, from helping prevent chronic health problems to assisting with clearing out waste. Here are the most common sleep positions and what each says about your health:
Fetal: The fetal position is favored by many, but women are twice as likely as men to prefer sleeping this way, while 4 out of 10 people choose it. Your spine rests in natural alignment. The fetal position may help prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and research also reveals your brain cleans out waste better when resting in the fetal position.
Log: Do you sleep like a log with your arms and legs close to your body? 15 percent of sleepers prefer the log position, and it may help prevent or soothe sleep apnea. Your spine is also aligned naturally which helps keep you healthy.
Freefall: Are you a stomach sleeper, pushing your arms under your pillow or beside your head? While snuggled in bed, this position feels comfortable, but you risk lower back and neck pain.
Soldier: Do you sleep on your back like an iron board, hands pinned to your sides? The soldier sleeping positions places you at risk for lower back issues, snoring and sleep apnea. Snoring thickens your carotid artery which provides blood to your brain, neck and face. On the bright side, the soldier helps calm acid reflux.
Starfish: When you sleep on your back with arms and legs spread out like a starfish, it boosts your chances of sleep apnea, but it does improve acid reflux.
Hack many of these sleeping positions to improve the quality of your sleep and health. Try placing a pillow between your knees or under your forehead to better align your spine and neck.
Look for a mattress that better accommodates your sleep position by reducing the stress on certain pressure points in your body. When you sleep in your preferred position, blood flow gets restricted in certain areas of the body and deprives those areas of nutrients and oxygen, which leads to aggravated health concerns over time. Your brain gets the message to toss and turn throughout the night, and when you don’t get quality sleep, other areas of your life and health suffer.
Improving Your Sleep Routine
Aside from hacking your sleeping position, you should actively improve your sleep routine to gain better quality sleep. Mental fog, grumpiness and lack of focus all adversely affect your work, relationships and health. By improving your sleep routine, you’ll improve every area of your life.
Something as innocent as checking your email or watching a movie right before bed can keep you awake at night. Responding to a text or email before bed can trigger the release of stress hormones. Screen time an hour before bed affects circadian rhythm since the high degree of light tricks the body’s melatonin production which regulates sleep. You end up staying awake longer and having trouble sleeping. Avoid electronic devices for an hour to two hours before you go to bed.
Ideally, keep electronics out of the bedroom. Keep the TV in the living room and use an alarm rather than your phone to wake up. Keep device temptation out of the bedroom, and rely on mindful breathing, asanas, reading or journaling as a new part of your sleep routine.
Clue your body into sleep an hour before bed. Lower the lights to increase ambiance, and go through your bedtime routine, such as brushing your teeth and taking the pillows off your bed. The body’s temperature also naturally lowers during sleep and turning down the thermostat at night may help you save money and gain more hours asleep.
Your sleep position could affect your health in addition to other areas of your life. Use these tips to hack your sleep position and routine to improve your quality of rest to wake up more refreshed and lead a healthier life.
About the Author
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Tripping.com and more!
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