247Aproko: How the Most Common Sleep Positions Affect Your Health

Talking about sleeping positions may seem futile, but they’re far more important than most people realize. Many think that it’s as simple as laying their butt down and then the magic will happen from there. We tend to not think about the importance of our sleeping position because it’s something that we’ve done for so long that it’s become automatic.

The reality is that your sleeping position matters. A lot.

If you’re sleeping in a position that compromises your body’s ability to function and recover, it doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you get, you’re still going to feel like a piñata the day after the party when you wake up.

One of the most important facets of your sleeping position is maintaining the integrity of your spine. Any good chiropractor can educate you on the fact that the brain stem running through your spine is directly connected to every major organ in your body. If your spine is compromised and there’s a break in the information between your brain and your body, chronic and catastrophic problems can take place. Some of these problems can be rooted in the way you’re sleeping.

There are many variations of positions, but these are the basics. And to make it even simpler, we’re just going to focus on getting you in the best position on your back, your stomach, or your side. Here’s how to do it:

1. Have your own back. 

Many
experts will tell you that sleeping on your back is the ideal position
to be in. There are several reasons that this could be accurate. First
of all, your spine can be in the best position here. You will also have
less likelihood of digestive distress, like acid reflux, in this
position. And, for all those who are cosmetically conscious, sleeping on
your back allows your facial skin to breathe, so you’ll be less prone
to having breakouts and early-onset wrinkling.

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The
downside of sleeping on your back is the greater likelihood of snoring
and sleep apnea. This is partly because when we sleep on our backs,
gravity can force the base of the tongue to collapse into the airway,
obstructing normal breathing. Another reason for this is general throat
weakness that’s exacerbated by lying on your back, causing the throat to
close during sleep.

If someone has too much body fat on their frame,
fat gathering in and around the throat can cut off the normal air
supply. Losing excess body fat and utilizing a different sleep position
can help to remedy this.

2. Sleep like a baby. 

Sleeping
on our stomachs used to be synonymous with sleeping like a baby. Laying
infants on their stomachs to sleep has gone in and out of favor and is
still much debated in our world today. Child development specialist Dr.
Václav Vojta states that lying on our stomach as infants is actually
critical to our development. Through 50 years of research, Dr. Vojta
identified that there are specific pressure points on our bodies that
“activate” nervous system programs when we are infants. These pressure
points are engaged when children are allowed to lie on their bellies and
do subtle movements that they would naturally do while sleeping.
Update
that to our adulthood, and many people just feel more comfortable and
peaceful lying on their bellies. There are many pros and cons to this,
so if you’re going to do it, do it right.

Lying
down face-first with your legs straight and your arms right by your
sides is probably a bad idea. This is compromising your back by taking
away the natural curve of your lumbar spine. Add having your head to one
side, smashed into a pillow for hours on end, and you’ve got a serious
recipe for disaster. On the brighter side, some research shows that
lying on your stomach can help prevent minor snoring and some symptoms
of sleep apnea.

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3. On the winning side. 

Most
people report that they prefer to sleep on their side, and for good
reason. Our most intense times of sleep and development happened while
we were in the womb, curled up in the fetal position. Sleeping on our
side is the natural sleeping position to emulate this developmental
template, and get this: sleeping on your side can even protect your brain.

Side-sleeping
can be a quick fix for snoring and can help to improve breathing, more
so than lying on your back. Plus, sleeping on your side (the left side
in particular) has been reported to ease troublesome digestive problems
like acid reflux and heartburn.

The
downside, as most side-sleepers know, is the dreaded “dead-arm” and
finger numbness from this position. Sleeping on your arm for too long
can cut off blood flow and nerve function. You can wake up feeling that
someone played a prank on you and slathered your arm with novocaine. But
that’s easily fixed: Make sure that your head isn’t propped up too high
on pillows. You want to ensure that you’re maintaining the natural
straight position of your spine with a pillow that supports your neck,
but doesn’t raise your head too much.

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