In all the years that I’ve had troubles with sleep I never even considered asking the question. “What’s the healthiest sleep position?”
I typically blamed various factors for my sleepless nights and the fact that I’d wake up every few hours, but I hadn’t ever thought that the way I was lying in bed may have an impact.
However, it appears that there are many ways to lie down and sleep in bed, and that some positions are considered more healthy than others.
Well that’s news to me. I never knew.
What I find even more astounding is that the numerous sleeping positions also reveal things about your personality.
So, let’s have a look at the many sleeping positions and what they say about you.
Well I Didn’t Know That Until Now…
I wasn’t aware until now that one part of my sleep routine was fairly consistent, and that was my favored position to sleep in (all will be revealed soon).
I guess that’s because I am prone to tossing and turning in bed and oftentimes I would wake up in the morning and think to myself, “how on earth did I end up in this position?”
In fact, I would struggle to get comfortable, and I believe I have slept in all the sleep positions, bar one, that I’m about to reveal (but it’s only now that I understand that I actually had a favorite position and the reasons why).
Something else that is a mystery to me is that most of us also communicate in our sleep through body language. Any expert will tell you that your body language reveals a lot about your thoughts and your personality, and apparently the same is true when we are in our beds.
If you think about it, on average, we spend 25%-33% of our lives sleeping, so it actually makes sense that the way we sleep reveals a lot about us.
Fetal Position & Curled Up Like A Baby
This is the most popular sleeping position, favored by up to 40% of people.
It is estimated that twice as many women sleep in this position than men.
It appears that this position is so popular because it tends to offer a feeling of safety, much like being back in your mother’s womb.
However, there are a few different schools of thought as to whether the fetal position is considered healthy.
Firstly, there are those who claim that the fetal position allows the spine to rest in it’s natural alignment. There is further suggestion that the brain does a better job of clearing waste, a lack of which can lead to certain neurological conditions. So apparently it’s good for the brain if you sleep on your side rather than on your back or stomach.
Many experts agree that the fetal position may help to ward off diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
It is also said that this is the ideal sleeping position for expectant mothers, especially by sleeping on your left side, as this can help to improve circulation for the growing baby, plus you can avoid your uterus pressing against your liver.
Sleeping on your side in the fetal position may also help to keep snoring at bay (think about how many times you’ve been pushed, or pushed your partner, into a side sleeping position to counteract the noise of snoring).
However, there appears to be some disadvantages to sleeping in the fetal position.
If you’re someone who suffers with arthritic pain then having your knees pulled up high and your chin tucked into the chest can cause some issues when you first wake up in the morning.
Furthermore, there is research which shows that sleeping in the fetal position on a nightly basis can lead to premature wrinkles on the face, and even saggy breasts.
Additionally, the curved nature of this sleep position will restrict diaphragmatic breathing.
So, if you’re someone who worries about losing their perky breasts, doesn’t want facial wrinkles, and suffers with neck and back pain, the fetal position may not be for you.
You may be better off stretching out a little bit rather than staying curled up in a tight ball. This way you allow the lungs and diaphragm a bit more freedom.
Finally, what does the fetal position say about you?
Well, apparently if this is your favorite sleeping position you tend to have a pleasant manner, can be shy and sensitive, but you typically project a tough exterior.
Sounds to me like someone who is perhaps a little insecure, but tries to hide it through their actions.
The Log or Straight-Legged Side Position
It appears that 15% of people sleep on their side with their arms down and close to the body.
Well, it turns out that this is a good thing, as the straight “log” position is considered very healthy, especially if you sleep in your left side.
Why the left side?
Sleeping on your left side is ideal for blood flow and can help if you suffer from acid reflux. It appears that the stomach and many of the major organs typically “hang” to the left, so by sleeping on your left side they don’t have to fight against gravity.
Also, sleeping on your side in the log position keeps the spine elongated and aligned, so it can cancel out neck or back pain.
Going back to what I mentioned with the fetal position, sleeping on your side can also help to reduce snoring and will cut down on sleep apnea too.
However, I’m sorry to say that sleeping on your side can once again lead to facial wrinkles and breast sag.
The best explanation I’ve seen for this is that one side of your face is literally squashed into a pillow for a number of hours every night. And as for sag this is due to the fact that the breasts are drooping downwards (for want of a better phrase), once again for several hours.
Sleeping on your side can be improved somewhat by placing a pillow or folded blanket between your knees, as this helps to alleviate pressure on the hips.
Log or side sleepers are generally viewed as being easy-going, social animals, who appear to be fairly trusting of strangers. However, they have also been described as people who are slightly gullible.
There is also another variety of side sleeper, known as the yearning log. You sleep on your side, but your arms are held out in front of you, almost as though you are yearning for something/someone.
In this case, you’re probably not as gullible as traditional log sleepers, although you are a little slower in making up your mind. But, once you’ve made up your mind about something, you tend to stick to it.
Just A Few More Notes On Side Sleeping Before We Move On
As side sleeping, whether fetal or log, accounts for more than half of the population, I just wanted to add a few more details about these types of sleeping positions.
A number of experts have weighed in with opinions on how to improve side sleeping. These include:
- Sleeping with your knees only slightly bent and not tucked up towards your chest as is common with the fetal position.
- Placing a small pillow between your knees will help to keep the spine properly stable and aligned.
- Hugging a pillow between your arms (so your arms are slightly outstretched like a yearner) will leave the chest, lungs and airways open.
Sealy, a manufacturer of mattresses in the UK, actually carried out a survey into side sleeping positions and came up with a number of mind-blowing “facts” as far as I’m concerned.
Are you ready for this?
Sleeping on the left side tends to be favored mainly by people aged between 45-54, who are degree-educated, and by those who work in advertising and marketing.
Right side sleeping is the chosen option on the whole for people between 35-44, people who work in manufacturing and transport, and those who smoke and enjoy at least 10 caffeinated drinks a day.
So, now you know!
The Skydive, Freefall, or Simply Lying On Your Stomach
This sleep position is reminiscent of jumping out of an airplane – you are lying on your stomach with your arms either side of you by your head, or even tucked under the pillow.
Some people may find stomach sleeping fairly comfortable, but it definitely gets a thumbs-down from just about every expert.
You’ll find it extremely difficult to maintain a neutral spine position, which can lead to neck and back pain.
It is also not recommended for women who are pregnant or have large breasts. Stomach sleeping should additionally be avoided if you sleep on a soft mattress.
This is yet another way to alleviate snoring, but it places a great deal of stress on the muscles, joints and nerves, and can often lead to numbness.
People who sleep on their belly tend to toss and turn a lot more than other sleepers, as it’s more difficult to get comfortable while lying on your stomach.
Sealy (remember them, the mattress people with an uncanny knack of explaining what types of people sleep in certain positions), claim that stomach sleepers tend to work in agriculture, are aged between 45-54, and are heavy drinkers who average at least 7-10 units of alcohol a day.
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(Something tells me that their research wasn’t conducted among a cross-section of the population).
If you are a stomach sleeper you may find it better if you use a soft pillow and turn your head to one side.
People who sleep on their stomachs tend to be a little brash, cocky even, are social magnets, but hate to be criticized, and will typically avoid confrontations.
The Soldier or Lying On Your Back With Your Arms By Your Side
This is generally how I start off my nights, and most mornings this is how I wake up.
I have a tendency to flip from side to side during the night, but I seem to always end up on my back (eventually). So, I would assume that lying on my back is my favorite sleeping position.
I actually thought that most people would sleep on their back, but as we can already see this is not the case, as 55% people sleep in some form of side position.
I have read that back sleeping is the best position in order to prevent neck and back pains, acid reflux (and yes it’s also the best position for avoiding facial wrinkles and maintaining perky breasts – never in my life did I imagine I would refer to “perky breasts” so much in one article).
However, back sleeping is typically the arch enemy when it comes to snoring and sleep apnea – a definite no-no.
You can actually improve back sleeping by placing a pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees, as this will help to support the natural curvature of your spine.
Back sleepers typically wake up the most refreshed and the most common demographic for sleeping on your back is adults aged between 25-34.
There is another variant to the soldier – ladies and gentlemen, I give you the starfish,
You are once again lying on your back, but your legs are spread and your arms will be bent to either side of your head.
This position will help with acid reflux, but I would hazard a guess that this would make you the most unpopular person in the room with your sleep partner.
You’re more likely to snore and I would think you’ll probably take up most of the bed too.
It seems that the vast majority of people are unlikely to change their position when it comes to sleeping, but there are also those of us who don’t appear to have a favored sleeping position.
Freestylers can move anywhere from 50-80 times a night and are what we consider to be natural tossers and turners (oh my), never actually staying in one position for too long.
Sealy’s claim that most freestylers are aged between 35-44 and usually work in utilities.
I don’t think any advice can be given to freestylers on how to improve their night’s sleep, because whatever I suggest they’re only going to move anyway.
So, as you can see there are various sleeping positions and apparently each position is favored by certain types of people.
The healthiest sleep position is considered to be either left-side log sleeping or the soldier and flat on your back.
They both offer many benefits in terms of health, avoiding certain conditions, and how refreshed you will feel upon awakening.
With that being said, there are also certain disadvantages to both these sleep positions.
I am somewhat perturbed that there isn’t an absolute perfect sleeping position considering how much of our lives we spend in bed, but at least I can rest safe in the knowledge that I won’t ever have to (hopefully) write the phrase “perky breasts” again.
Thank you for reading and I love to hear from you about your favorite sleeping position and your reasons why.
Please feel free to drop me a comment in the comments section below.