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Sleep. We all need it, and we all do it. It’s even a hobby for some of us! A good night’s sleep can make us feel like a million dollars when we wake up. On the flip side getting up in the morning after interrupted sleep or waking up with aches and pains can make us feel ready for the scrap yard! As adults we average at 7 hours of sleep a day, so being still for this period of time can cause strain on our bodies. 
 
So how do the positions we sleep in affect us? Are there positions we shouldn’t be sleeping in? 
 
The list of various sleeping positions is actually rather more extensive than you first might imagine, but which ones are harming your sleep and posture and maybe even your overall health? Here’s a brief outline of some of them. 
 
On your front/stomach. 
 
This is technically known as the prone position. Sleeping in this position is damaging to your neck and spine health because your neck and spine are not in a neutral position. As a result, you’re putting pressure on them and causing aches and pains, but more importantly it can also put pressure on the nerves causing pain, further leading to numbness and even nerve damage. However, if you suffer from respiratory issues sleeping, this position can help in terms of keeping the airways clear. 
 
Back or supine position. 
 
This is a sleeping position with a mixed bag of advantages and disadvantages. It can cause a lot of back pain or make current back problems even worse. If you can’t get away from the lying on your back, try placing a pillow under your knees to help alleviate pressure off the lower back. The prominent advantage for laying on your back is that you keep your head and neck in a neutral position, therefore reducing strain that most other sleeping positions give you. 
 
The starfish. 
 
This one is slightly less popular. This position is where you are sleeping on the back with the arms above the head (usually adopted once the other person vacates the bed in the morning!). The starfish comes with the same disadvantages and advantages as the standard supine, except you’re more prone to snoring in this position. 
 
Side lying. 
 
Also known as the lateral position, this is the position favoured by the majority of people. This position seems to cause snoring far less than its supine counterpart and seems to be favoured by those who suffer with back, neck, and shoulder pains. The drawbacks to this position can include waking up sore if you suffer from arthritis. This curled up position can also restrict deep breathing by causing extra pressure on the diaphragm. People who suffer from congestive heart failure should sleep on the right side as this may protect them from further health damage. 
 
The foetal position. 
 
This is lying on the side with the knees tucked up, another firm favourite of many. Some studies seem to suggest that this position is actually favoured by more women than men, however this research is disputed. Dependent on whether the neck is straight or not, this can cause a lot of neck strain as well as shoulder pain. However, this position offers an advantage for women that are pregnant, particularly lying on the left side, as it aids the circulation of both the mother and foetus. 
 
Of course, all of these positions may be affected by the mattress of choice as well, and this may affect sleep posture positively or negatively. 
 
All in all, there doesn’t seem to be any conclusive evidence from studies to show an ideal sleeping posture, it is very much down to the individual and their set of circumstances. However, this does serve to show there are some positions which seem to have some pretty negative effects, with sleep being vital to us it’s very important to sort out that sleeping posture! 
 
If you’re waking up feeling worse than when you went to bed maybe it’s time to book in for a massage. We can help get to the bottom of what may be causing the issues and advise on potential solutions. Book in online with any of our therapists. 
Tagged as: rest, sleep
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