According to Steven Park, MD, author of Sleep, Interrupted and clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology at New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y., sleeping posture can affect an individual’s quality of sleep and overall health. Park explained that fatigue, sleep apnea, headaches, heartburn, and back pain are several of the most common complaints that can be aggravated as a result of improper sleep posture and a bad night’s rest.
But, when it comes to sleeping on your side, stomach, or back, which is the best sleep position? Additionally, if the certain sleep position one currently favors is not the best for their health, many individuals frequently question whether switching to another position may offer better health benefits for them. “You’re naturally going to gravitate toward a position that you feel best sleeping in,” Steven Park stated. Also, individuals will generally choose their preferred sleep posture based on how well they’re able to breathe in that position. “The smaller the airway in your throat becomes at night, the more likely it is you’re going to sleep on your stomach,” Park added.
The Relation of Sleep Quality and Posture
Back sleeping is not recommended for individuals who snore or for those with sleep apnea. Individuals with these complications should preferably sleep on their side because it can help maintain their airways open. Research suggest that sleeping on the left side can relieve heartburn symptoms while right side sleeping can worsen them. Left side sleeping is also recommended during pregnancy as it can improve circulation to the heart, which is good for both mom and baby.
Steven Park advices that people may attempt to experiment with different sleeping postures but he strongly suggested against switching from the individual’s natural sleep position unless a previously diagnosed or currently identified health condition demands it.
Studies show that 63 percent of Americans prefer to sleep on their side where 16 percent of them favor sleeping on their stomach and only 14 percent of them sleep on their back. But from all types of sleeping postures, which is the best for good quality sleep and your overall health? By following a few simple tips, many individuals may be able to achieve the quality of sleep they deserve.
When Fixing Sleep Posture…
Most importantly, listen to your body and follow its natural sleep flow. You may have heard that sleeping on your back can prevent facial wrinkles because nothing is pushing against your face, but it’s often best not to change the way you sleep. Trying to change your natural sleep position can harm the quality of your sleep, and as stated before, unless there’s a specific health condition that requires the individual to follow a specific sleeping posture, there’s no other reason why individual’s should be changing their sleep positions. Also, the type of mattress you sleep on and its condition is important towards achieving good quality rest. An old, worn-out mattress will often sink in the middle, making side or stomach sleeping much more difficult. And last, for people who sleep on their side, choosing the side they sleep on could make a big difference on a good night’s rest. The majority of American’s are side sleepers, but there’s still not enough evidence to show which side, whether left or right, is the most popular. Most individuals choose a single position they prefer the most, but it may often shift with age, generally due to the development of health issues. Also, no one stays in a single position all night, and doing so, is usually not good for your circulation.
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Sleeping posture can be just as important as an individual’s sitting or standing posture. While there is not enough research to determine which of the various sleep positions is best, sleeping posture can affect an individual’s quality of sleep and may also aggravate some conditions, such as headaches, heartburn and back pain. For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at (915) 850-0900.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
The information herein on "Sleep Posture and Sleep Quality" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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