Sleep On It: How Are Your Sleeping Habits Affecting Your Posture?
I am a strong believer that a good sleep can cure just about anything. Colds, flus, injuries, headaches, bad days- the list goes on.
“Sleep on it” is some of the most sage advice out there.
Unsure about a big decision? SLEEP ON IT! You’ll know what to do in the morning.
There’s no doubt that sleep can cure pretty much anything, but have you ever thought about the harm you might be doing to yourself while you catch some z’s? Us either! Turns out the pose you slumber in can have a major impact on your slumber—as well as your overall health. Poor sleeping posture could potentially cause back and neck pain, fatigue, sleep apnea, muscle cramping, impaired circulation, headaches, heartburn, and tummy troubles.
We’ve taken the most popular ways to sleep and rated them from best to worst, healthiest to unhealthiest.
1. Gold Star Winner: Flat On Your Back
This is one of the least popular ways to sleep—only eight percent of people sleep on their backs—even though it’s the best way to sleep, why is that always the way? For the majority of the population this is the healthiest option.
Sleeping on your back allows your head, neck, and spine to rest in a neutral position. This means that there’s no extra pressure on those areas, so you're less likely to experience pain. Got heartburn? Sleeping facing the ceiling is ideal for warding off acid reflux. Just be sure to use a pillow that elevates and supports your head enough—you want your stomach to be below your esophagus to prevent food or acid from coming up your digestive tract. However, snoozing on your back can cause the tongue to block the breathing tube, making it a dangerous position for those who suffer from sleep apnea (a condition that causes periods of breathlessness). This position can also make snoring more severe.
2. The Runner Up: Side Sleeping
This position (where your torso and legs are relatively straight) also helps decrease acid reflux, and since your spine is elongated, it wards off back and neck pain. Plus, you're less likely to snore in this snooze posture, because it keeps airways open. For that reason, it’s also the best choice for those with sleep apnea. Fifteen percent of adults choose to sleep on their side, but there’s one downside: it can cause neck tension and stiffness if you spend most of your time on one side, or if your pillow it too thick.
3. Bronze Medalist:The Fetal Position
With 41 percent of adults choosing this option, it’s the most popular sleep position. A loose, fetal position (where you're on your side and your torso is hunched and your knees are bent)—especially on your left side—is great if you're pregnant. This position will help to improve circulation in your body and in the fetus, while also preventing your uterus from pressing against your liver, which is on your right side. This pose is also good for snorers. But resting in a fetal position that's curled up too tightly can restrict breathing in your diaphragm. And it can leave you feeling a bit sore in the morning, particularly if you have arthritis in your joints or back. Prevent these woes by straightening out your body as much as you can, instead of tucking your chin into your chest and pulling your knees up high. You can also reduce the strain on your hips by placing a pillow between your knees.
4. Last Place: On Your Stomach
While this is good for easing snoring, it’s bad for practically everything else. Seven percent of adults pick this pose, but it can lead to back and neck pain, since it’s hard to keep your spine in a neutral position. Plus, stomach sleepers put pressure on their muscles and joints, possibly leading to numbness, tingling, aches, and irritated nerves. It’s best to try to choose another position, but if you must sleep on your stomach, try lying facedown to keep your upper airways open—instead of with your head turned to one side—with your forehead propped up on a pillow to allow room to breathe.
We understand it’s not always easy to control the way you sleep. You may start with the best intentions and when wake up wrapped up in the blankets with your head at the foot of the bed. Here are a few of our favourite tips to help keep your posture healthy while you sleep.
1. Pillows have got your back.
No matter whether you’re a back, stomach, or side sleeper, adding pillows can help provide support. Basically, you want to add a pillow anywhere there's a space between your body and the mattress
2. One, Singular Sensation.
Avoid turning at your waist while you are in bed. Instead, (when you can/ are conscious) keep your back straight and your stomach muscles tight, and turn your whole body when you want to reposition yourself.
3. Invest In Your Rest!
It is so, so important to invest in your self care, so do yourself a favour and replace your mattress every decade or so. If that's not in the cards for you financially (we know mattresses are NOT cheap) but your mattress isn't providing the support you need try adding a board between the box springs and mattress, which should keep it from sagging. In terms of shopping for a new mattress, we know that can be quite a daunting task. So many choices! How do you know which one will be the right one for you and your needs? The good news is a lot of mattress companies let you try out a mattress for up to 100 nights, so take advantage of that policy. Take them for test drives! It'll be worth it in the long run.
Sleep is not something to take for granted or to skimp on. Get your zzz’s in! Your mind, body, soul, coworkers and family with thank you! We challenge you to take a look at your sleeping habits and see where there might be room for improvement- it could be as simple as getting a new pillow. What are your pain points during the day? Soreness, lack of focus, impatience? Could making changes to your sleeping habits help these?
Do you have sleeping tips or want more info? Leave us a comment or as always drop into our inbox at email@example.com