March 15, 2021 / By Dr. Mark Greenwood, Chief Medical Officer, Molina Healthcare of Utah
Change your sleep position and improve your health
By Dr. Mark Greenwood, Chief Medical Officer, Molina Healthcare of Utah
Whether you happily snooze through a parade outside your window or can’t get to dreamland without pitch black silence, there’s one thing that can make sleep healthier for all of us.
Ready for a surprise? It’s variety! Your body responds well to it.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the best way to maintain your spine’s alignment is to change positions as you sleep. Just like with a car, when your body is out of alignment, it causes issues that get worse over the long haul.
But which position is healthiest overall? There’s no simple answer, but here’s what experts have to say.
Sleeping on your stomach
If there’s any one position that’s not good, it’s this one. Stomach sleeping keeps your head turned one way for a prolonged time, creating soreness. Your neck gets stretched backward too, which compresses your spine.
If you can break your stomach-sleeping habit, it will likely pay off in better health. Snuggling up to a body pillow may give you that familiar pressure on your chest so you can transition to side-sleeping.
Sleeping on your side
This position may make the most sense for you, as long as you keep your head in a neutral posture. Picture yourself standing and looking at the horizon, your ears right over your shoulders: this is how they should be as you sleep. Switching from one side to the other during the night helps you stay balanced. And avoid tucking your chin down or you may be sore in the morning.
If you have issues with snoring or indigestion, side sleeping may help.
Sleeping on your back
This position offers lots of health benefits, including reduced pressure on your back, joints, hips and knees. And bonus: it slows the formation of wrinkles on your face, neck and chest.
However, back sleeping may present problems if you struggle with snoring or sleep apnea. Back pain can be an obstacle as well—though you might alleviate it by putting pillows under your knees.
A healthy combination
You may feel most rested if you go with a blend of back and side sleeping. Since everybody is different, it’s difficult to say.
In fact, if you are waking up each morning refreshed and ready to go, there’s no need to change your sleep habits.
But if you aren’t getting enough rest, gradually training your body toward a new go-to sleeping position may boost your health, mentally and physically.
Category: Physical Health