Most of us have a preferred position to sleep in. Once this posture has become set it’s very difficult to change without many nights of disrupted sleep. However, there are long-term benefits to making the effort to change your sleep position, especially if you suffer from certain health issues. Here is a checklist of pluses and minuses of each position and tips to refine them so you can find what is your best side to sleep on.
This is generally regarded by GPs as the best position to sleep in, as it allows you to get your back into a neutral, relaxed posture with the neck and torso in alignment especially with the right choice of pillows. 10% of us lie on our back.
|Relaxes spine and neck||High risk of snoring unless you raise the pillows|
|Good to avoid lying on shoulder and hip pain|
|Reduces wrinkles as face not pressed into pillow|
|Minimises breast sagging||Reduces acid reflux, as stomach is below windpipe|
Tip to improve
Get the right pillow for your neck as if too high or too low will adversely affect your neck muscles and joints.
Put a small pillow under your knees which helps to keep the correct curvature in your lower back.
If you suffer lower back pain placing a small pillow under the lumbar spine can ease the pain if you prefer to sleep on your back.
Over half the population claim to lie on their side to sleep although from experience talking to clients whilst we start on our side we end up moving around and often end up slightly face down as we roll in the night. Around 15% of us lie on our side, with the body straight.
|Reduces snoring, with raised pillow||Increases wrinkles and breast sagging|
|Reduces Acid Reflux (if pillow keeps windpipe above stomach)||Would aggravate shoulder and hip pain if lying on that side|
Tip to improve
Place a pillow between your knees which helps keeps your pelvis in alignment with your lower back, and also helps prevent you rolling onto the stomach. Ideally the pillow should bring your knee up to parallel level with your hip, but should at least be the width of your fist.
Use a medium firm pillow to allow your head and neck to keep in alignment with your spine.
Most of us claim to lie in the foetal position, which is widely regarded as the best position for pregnancy, and tends to be recommended by health professional for patients for relief from lower back pain.
|Good for reducing the impact of snoring vs lying on your back||Increases wrinkles and breast sagging|
|Recommended for pregnancy with the mum to be lying on the left hand side as this increases circulation to the mum and fetus, and minimises the uterus pressing on the liver||Can restrict the diaphragm and therefore breathing, with the knees bent it can also irritate those with arthritis|
|Would aggravate shoulder and hip pain if lying on that side|
Tip to improve
Place pillow between knees to minimise rolling onto the front and to keep the upper leg from pulling the spine out of alignment. This also reduces the stress on the lower back and hips
This is the position to avoid as it significantly increases the chance of tightening your neck muscles and irritating your lower back as it’s not possible to keep your spine and neck in neutral alignment in this position. The neck rotates to one side causing strains and stiffness, with your lower back being pushed into extension which aggravates the joints .
|The only benefit is that it reduces snoring||This position aggravates everything else, increasing wrinkles|
Tip to improve
Lie face down to keep your airways open, rather than turn your head to the side. Prop your forehead up on a shallow pillow to allow you room to breath
Apart from the problems of wrinkles and sagging breasts this would be my personal preference as being a lower back pain sufferer, side lying (with a pillow under the top knee) is easier to maintain than lying on my back with pillows under my lower back and knees.
Lying on your left hand side has a couple of further benefits, including draining of the brain’s glymphatic system, which is the system which cleans waste out of the brain. Sleeping on the left also helps with blood flow from the heart, facilitates lymphatic drainage, and helps elimination from the large intestine into the colon.
What are the best and worst positions ?
|Acid Reflux||Back (head up) Side||Face Down|
|Back Pain||Back/side||Face Down|
|Neck Pain||Back/side||Face Down|
|Shoulder Pain||Back (pillow under)||Side|