August 21, 2017

"Eighty percent of the population will have back problems at some point in [their] lives often caused or aggravated by the way they sleep," Dr. Hooman Melamed, orthopedic spine surgeon.


We all have a go-to position that we can count on for a good night's sleep. Maybe it's on our side with one leg draped over the covers, or curled up in the fetal position still cradling our iPad. Granted, these positions might help us doze off but other than that, they're not doing us any favours. In fact, they're causing long-term damage.

You may not realise it when you wake up in the morning, but over time our favourite positions are causing everything from back and neck pain to stomach problems and even wrinkles. So is it time to kick your bad sleep position? Here we identify the best and worst sleeping positions so you can make the call on whether or not it's time to kick your go-to sleep style to the curb.


The Worst Sleeping Positions

Sommuto | Sleeping on the RightBad: Right side
If you want to be kind to your heart, sleeping on your right side is never ideal. This is because it puts a lot of pressure on your entire cardiovascular system, and can constrict your rib cage and strain your lungs.

Sleeping on your side can also result in wrinkles as it causes your face to push up against your pillow, according to Dr. Paul Nassif, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. But if you absolutely must choose a side, opt for the left for reasons we’ll explain later!

Worse: One leg up or bent
If you're someone who finds it too hot with the covers on and too cold with them off, you might end up settling for the 'one leg out' position which sees you bend one leg over the covers while the rest of your body is tucked in.

This position, and variations of it where one leg is raised higher than the other puts an uneven displacement of pressure on your pelvis and unnecessary strain on your spine, leading to muscle tension and eventual back problems. If you struggle to get the right temperature in bed, invest in breathable linens and lighter coverlets to keep cool without putting your health at risk.

Sommuto | Sleeping on your stomachWorst: The stomach
Rarely is sleeping on your stomach a good idea, in fact according to sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, it's the absolute worst position as "you have to turn your entire head almost 90 degrees and that causes tremendous strain across your neck. Also if you have an older mattress and there’s any kind of sag ... it will cause a curve across your strain."

Although we strongly caution against it, if you absolutely must sleep on your stomach, at least do so with your arms to your side as shooting them under your pillow in a position known as the 'starfish' can twist your spine!


The Best Sleeping Positions

Sommuto | Sleeping on the leftGood: Left side
It’s not top choice but if you must sleep on your side, go for the left. While the right side pushes on blood vessels adding pressure on your veins, the left side allows for cardiovascular return, according to medical director Christopher Winter.

The left side is also a suitable choice for people with heartburn and reflex, according to sleep expert Dr. Raj Dasgupta, as "the stomach is below the esophagus so the reflux doesn't go there."


Sommuto | Sleeping on your BackBest: Your back
As it turns out, the best sleeping position is also the simplest. Laying flat on your back is the best position, says sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, as "it disperses your weight across your entire frame and the weight distribution can ease any type of muscular pain or potential strain."

In addition to making it easy for your head, neck and spine to align, sleeping on your back could also stall the ageing process. According to Dee Anna Glaser, a professor of dermatology, this sleeping position can help prevent wrinkles as nothing is pushing against your face.


Now that you know what position you should be sleeping in tonight.


Happy Sleeping with Sommuto

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